pleia2's blog Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph's public journal about Linux, sysadmining, beer, travel, pink gadgets and her life in the city where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars. 2017-01-14T07:32:38Z http://princessleia.com/journal/feed/atom/ WordPress pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[Holidays in Philadelphia]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12365 2017-01-14T07:32:38Z 2017-01-14T07:32:38Z In December MJ and I spent a couple weeks on the east coast in the new townhouse. It was the first long stay we’ve had there together, and though the holidays limited how much we could get done, particularly when it came to contractors, we did have a whole bunch to do.

First, I continued my quest to go through boxes of things that almost exclusively belonged to MJ’s grandparents. Unpacking, cataloging and deciding what pieces stay in Pennsylvania and what we’re sending to California. In the course of this I also had a deadline creeping up on me as I needed to find the menorah before Hanukkah began on the evening of December 24th. The timing of Hanukkah landing right along Christmas and New Years worked out well for us, MJ had some time off and it made the timing of the visit even more of a no-brainer. Plus, we were able to celebrate the entire eight night holiday there in Philadelphia rather than breaking it up between there and San Francisco.

The most amusing thing about finding the menorah was that it’s nearly identical to the one we have at home. MJ had mentioned that it was similar when I picked it out, but I had no idea that it was almost identical. Nothing wrong with the familiar, it’s a beautiful menorah.

House-wise MJ got the garage door opener installed and shelves put up in the powder room. With the help of his friend Tim, he also got the coffee table put together and the television mounted over the fireplace on New Years Eve. The TV was up in time to watch some of the NYE midnight broadcasts! We got the mail handling, trash schedule and cleaning sorted out with relatives who will be helping us with that, so the house will be well looked after in our absence.

I put together the vacuum and used it for the first time as I did the first thorough tidying of the house since we’d moved everything in from storage. I got my desk put together in the den, even though it’s still surrounded by boxes and will be until we ship stuff out to California. I was able to finally unpack some things we had actually ordered the last time I was in town but never got to put around the house, like a bunch of trash cans for various rooms and some kitchen goodies from ThinkGeek (Death Star waffle maker! R2-D2 measuring cups!). We also ordered a pair of counter-height chairs for the kitchen and they arrived in time for me to put them together just before we left, so the kitchen is also coming together even though we still need to go shopping for pots and pans.

Family-wise, we did a lot of visiting. On Christmas Eve we went to the nearby Samarkand restaurant, featuring authentic Uzbeki food. It was wonderful. We also did various lunches and dinners. A couple days were also spent going down to the city to visit a relative who is recovering in the hospital.

I didn’t see everyone I wanted to see but we did also get to visit with various friends. I saw my beloved Rogue One: A Star Wars Story a second time and met up with Danita to see Moana, which was great. I’ve now listened to the Moana soundtrack more than a few times. We met up with Crissi and her boyfriend Henry at Grand Lux Cafe in King of Prussia, where we also had a few errands to run and I was able to pick up some mittens at L.L. Bean. New Years Eve was spent with our friends Tim and Colleen, where we ordered pizza and hung aforementioned television. They also brought along some sweet bubbly for us to enjoy at midnight.

We also had lots of our favorite foods! We celebrated together at MJ’s favorite French cuisine inspired Chinese restaurant in Chestnut Hill, CinCin. We visited some of our standard favorites, including The Continental and Mad Mex. Exploring around our new neighborhood, we indulged in some east coast Chinese, made it to a Jewish deli where I got a delicious hoagie, found a sushi place that has an excellent roll list. We also went to Chickie’s and Pete’s crab house a couple of times, which, while being a Philadelphia establishment, I’d never actually been to. We also had a dinner at The Melting Pot, where I was able to try some local beers along with our fondue, and I’m delighted to see how much the microbrewery scene has grown since I moved away. We also hit a few diners during our stay, and enjoyed some eggnog from Wawa, which is some of the best eggnog ever made.

Unfortunately it wasn’t all fun. I’ve been battling a nasty bout of bronchitis for the past couple months. This continued ailment led to a visit to urgent care to get it looked at, and an x-ray to confirm I didn’t have a pneumonia. A pile of medication later, my bronchitis lingered and later in the week I spontaneously developed hives on my neck, which confounded the doctor. In the midst of health woes, I also managed to cut my foot on some broken glass while I was unpacking. It bled a lot, and I was a bit hobbled for a couple days while it healed. Thankfully MJ cleaned it out thoroughly (ouch!) once the bleeding had subsided and it has healed up nicely.

As the trip wound down I found myself missing the cats and eager to get home where I’d begin my new job. Still, it was with a heavy heart that we left our beautiful new vacation home, family and friends on the east coast.

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[The Girard Avenue Line]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12363 2017-01-05T08:50:54Z 2017-01-05T08:47:14Z While I was in Philadelphia over the holidays a friend clued me into the fact that one of the historic streetcars (trolleys) on the Girard Avenue Line was decorated for the holidays. This line, SEPTA Route 15, is the last historic trolley line in Philadelphia and I had never ridden it before. This was the perfect opportunity!

I decided that I’d make the whole day about trains, so that morning I hopped on the SEPTA West Trenton Line regional rail, which has a stop near our place north of Philadelphia. After cheesesteak lunch near Jefferson Station, it was on to the Market-Frankfort Line subway/surface train to get up to Girard Station.

My goal for the afternoon was to see and take pictures of the holiday car, number 2336. So, with the friend I dragged along on this crazy adventure, we started waiting. The first couple trolleys weren’t decorated, so we hopped on another to get out of the chilly weather for a bit. Got off that trolley and waited for a few more, in both directions. This was repeated a couple times until we finally got a glimpse of the decorated trolley heading back to Girard Station. Now on our radar, we hopped on the next one and followed that trolley!


The non-decorated, but still lovely, 2335

We caught up with the decorated trolley after the turnaround at the end of the line and got on just after Girard Station. From there we took it all the way to the end of the line in west Philadelphia at 63rd St. There we had to disembark, and I took a few pictures of the outside.

We were able to get on again after the driver took a break, which allowed us take it all the way back.

The car was decorated inside and out, with lights, garland and signs.

At the end the driver asked if we’d just been on it to take a ride. Yep! I came just to see this specific trolley! Since it was getting dark anyway, he was kind enough to turn the outside lights on for me so I could get some pictures.

As my first time riding this line, I was able to make some observations about how they differ from the PCCs that run in San Francisco. In the historic fleet of San Francisco streetcars, the 1055 has the same livery as the trolleys that run in Philadelphia today. Most of the PCC’s in San Francisco’s fleet actually came from SEPTA in Philadelphia and this one is no exception, originally numbered 2122 while in service there. However, taking a peek inside it’s easy to see that it’s a bit different than the ones that run in Philadelphia today:


Inside the 1055 in San Francisco

The inside of this looks shiny compared to the inside of the one still running in Philadelphia. It’s all metal versus the plastic inside in Philadelphia, and the walls of the car are much thinner in San Francisco. I suspect this is all due to climate control requirements. In San Francisco we don’t really have seasons and the temperature stays pretty comfortable, so while there is a little climate control, it’s nothing compared to what the cars in Philadelphia need in the summer and winter. You can also see a difference from the outside, the entire top of the Philadelphia cars has a raised portion which seems to be climate control, but on the San Francisco cars it’s only a small bit at the center:


Outside the 1055 in San Francisco

Finally, the seats and wheelchair accessibility is different. The seats are all plastic in San Francisco, whereas they have fabric in Philadelphia. The raised platforms themselves and a portable metal platform serve as wheelchair access in San Francisco, whereas Philadelphia has an actual operative lift since there are many street level stops.

To wrap up the trolley adventure, we hopped on a final one to get us to Broad Street where we took the Broad Street Line subway down to dinner at Sazon on Spring Garden Street, where we had a meal that concluded with some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Perfect to warm us up after spending all afternoon chasing trolleys in Philadelphia December weather.

Dinner finished, I took one last train, the regional rail to head back to the suburbs.

More photos from the trolleys on the Girard Avenue Line here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157676838141261

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[The adventures of 2016]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12329 2017-01-02T15:28:41Z 2017-01-02T15:19:47Z 2016 was filled with professional successes and exciting adventures, but also various personal struggles. I exhausted myself finishing two books, navigated some complicated parts of my marriage, experienced my whole team getting laid off from a job we loved, handled an uptick in migraines and a continuing bout of bronchitis, and am still coming to terms with the recent loss.

It’s been difficult to maintain perspective, but it actually was an incredible year. I succeeded in having two books come out, my travels took me to some new, amazing places, we bought a vacation house, all my blood work shows that I’m healthier than I was at this time last year.


Lots more running in 2016 led to a healthier me!

Some of the tough stuff has even been good. I have succeeded in strengthening bonds with my husband and several people in my life who I care about. I’ve worked hard to worry less and enjoy time with friends and family, which may explain why this year ended up being the one of the group selfie. I paused to capture happy moments with my loved ones a lot more often.

So without further ado, the more quantitative year roundup!

The 9th edition of the The Official Ubuntu Book came out in July. This is the second edition I’ve been part of preparing. The book has updates to bring us up to the 16.04 release and features a whole new chapter covering “Ubuntu, Convergence, and Devices of the Future” which I was really thrilled about adding. My work with Matthew Helmke and José Antonio Rey was also very enjoyable. I wrote about the release here.

I also finished the first book I was the lead author on, Common OpenStack Deployments. Writing a book takes a considerable amount of time and effort, I spent many long nights and weekends testing and tweaking configurations largely written by my contributing author, Matt Fischer, writing copy for the book and integrating feedback from our excellent fleet of reviewers and other contributors. In the end, we released a book that takes the reader from knowing nothing about OpenStack to doing sample deployments using the same Puppet-driven tooling that enterprises use in their environments. The book came out in September, I wrote about it on my own blog here and maintain a blog about the book at DeploymentsBook.com.


Book adventures at the Ocata OpenStack Summit in Barcelona! Thanks to Nithya Ruff for taking a picture of me with my book at the Women of OpenStack area of the expo hall (source) and Brent Haley for getting the picture of Lisa-Marie and I (source).

This year also brought a new investment to our lives, we bought a vacation home in Pennsylvania! It’s a new construction townhouse, so we spent a fair amount of time on the east coast the second half of this year searching for a place, picking out the details and closing. We then spent the winter holidays here, spending a full two weeks away from home to really settle in. I wrote more about our new place here.

I keep saying I won’t travel as much, but 2016 turned out to have more travel than ever, taking over 100,000 miles of flights again.


Feeding a kangaroo, just outside of Melbourne, Australia

At the Jain Temple in Mumbai, India

We had lots of beers in Germany! Photo in the center by Chris Hoge (source)

Barcelona is now one of my favorite places, and it’s Sagrada Familia Basilica was breathtaking

Most of these conferences and events had a speaking component for me, but I also did a fair number of local talks and at some conferences I spoke more than once. The following is a rundown of all these talks I did in 2016, along with slides.


Photo by Masayuki Igawa (source) from Linux Conf AU in Geelong

Photo by Johanna Koester (source) from my keynote at the Ocata OpenStack Summit

MJ and I have also continued to enjoy our beloved home city of San Francisco, both with just the two of us and with various friends and family. We saw a couple Giants baseball games, along with one of the Sharks playoff games! Sampled a variety of local drinks and foods, visited lots of local animals and took in some amazing local sights. We went to the San Francisco Symphony for the first time, enjoyed a wonderful time together over over Labor Day weekend and I’ve skipped out at times to visit museum exhibits and the zoo.


Dinner at Luce in San Francisco, celebrating MJ’s new job

This year I also geeked out over trains – in four states and five countries! In May MJ and I traveled to Maine to spend some time with family, and a couple days of that trip were spent visiting the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport and the Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum in Portland, I wrote about it here. I also enjoyed MUNI Heritage Weekend with my friend Mark at the end of September, where we got to see some of the special street cars and ride several vintage buses, read about that here. I also went up to New York City to finally visit the famous New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn and accompanying holiday exhibit at the Central Station with my friend David, details here. In Philadelphia I enjoyed the entire Girard Street line (15) which is populated by historic PCC streetcars (trolleys), including one decorated for the holidays, I have a pile of pictures here. I also got a glimpse of a car on the historic streetcar/trolley line in Melbourne and my buddy Devdas convinced me to take a train in Mumbai, and I visited the amazing Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus there too. MJ also helped me plan some train adventures in the Netherlands and Germany as I traveled from airports for events.


From the Seashore Trolley Museum barn

As I enter into 2017 I’m thrilled to report that I’ll be starting a new job. Travel continues as I have trips to Australia and Los Angeles already on my schedule. I’ll also be spending time getting settled back into my life on the west coast, as I have spent 75% of my time these past couple months elsewhere.

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[OpenStack Days Mountain West 2016]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12308 2016-12-27T15:02:19Z 2016-12-27T15:02:19Z A couple weeks ago I attended my last conference of the year, OpenStack Days Mountain West. After much flight shuffling following a seriously delayed flight, I arrived late on the evening prior to the conference with plenty of time to get settled in and feel refreshed for the conference in the morning.

The event kicked off with a keynote from OpenStack Foundation COO Mark Collier who spoke on the growth and success of OpenStack. His talk strongly echoed topics he touched upon at the recent OpenStack Summit back in October as he cited several major companies who are successfully using OpenStack in massive, production deployments including Walmart, AT&T and China Mobile. In keeping with the “future” theme of the conference he also talked about organizations who are already pushing the future potential of OpenStack by betting on the technology for projects that will easily exceed the capacity of what OpenStack can handle today.

Also that morning, Lisa-Marie Namphy moderated a panel on the future of OpenStack with John Dickinson, K Rain Leander, Bruce Mathews and Robert Starmer. She dove right in with the tough questions by having panelists speculate as to why the three major cloud providers don’t run OpenStack. There was also discussion about who the actual users of OpenStack were (consensus was: infrastructure operators), which got into the question of whether app developers were OpenStack users today (perhaps not, app developers don’t want a full Linux environment, they want a place for their app to live). They also discussed the expansion of other languages beyond Python in the project.

That afternoon I saw a talk by Mike Wilson of Mirantis on “OpenStack in the post Moore’s Law World” where he reflected on the current status of Moore’s Law and how it relates to cloud technologies, and the projects that are part of OpenStack. He talked about how the major cloud players outside of OpenStack are helping drive innovation for their own platforms by working directly with chip manufacturers to create hardware specifically tuned to their needs. There’s a question of whether anyone in the OpenStack community is doing similar, and it seems that perhaps they should so that OpenStack can have a competitive edge.

My talk was next, speaking on “The OpenStack Project Continuous Integration System” where I gave a tour of our CI system and explained how we’ve been tracking project growth and steps we’ve taken with regard to scaling it to handle it going into the future. Slides from the talk are available here (PDF). At the end of my talk I gave away several copies of Common OpenStack Deployments which I also took the chance to sign. I’m delighted that one of the copies will be going to the San Diego OpenStack Meetup and another to one right there in Salt Lake City.

Later I attended Christopher Aedo’s “Transforming Organizations with OpenStack” where he walked the audience through hands on training his team did about the OpenStack project’s development process and tooling for IBM teams around the world. The lessons learned from working with these teams and getting them to love open processes once they could explain them in person was inspiring. Tassoula Kokkoris wrote a great summary of the talk here: Collaborative Culture Spotlight: OpenStack Days Mountain West. I rounded off the day by going to David Medberry’s “Private Cloud Cattle and Pet Wrangling” talk where he drew experience from the private cloud at Charter Communications to discuss the move from treating servers like pets to treating them like cattle and how that works in a large organization with departments that have varying needs.

The next day began with a talk by OpenStack veteran, and now VP of Solutions at SUSE, Joseph George. He gave a talk on the state of OpenStack, with a strong message about staying on the path we set forth, which he compared to his own personal transformation to lose a significant amount of weight. In this talk, he outlined three main points that we must keep in mind in order to succeed:

  1. Clarity on the Goal and the Motivation
  2. Staying Focused During the “Middle” of the Journey
  3. Constantly Learning and Adapting

He wrote a more extensive blog post about it here which fleshes out how each of these related to himself and how they map to OpenStack: OpenStack, Now and Moving Ahead: Lessons from My Own Personal Transformation.

The next talk was a fun one from Lisa-Marie Namphy and Monty Taylor with the theme of being a naughty or nice list for the OpenStack community. They walked through various decisions, aspects of the project, and more to paint a picture of where the successes and pain points of the project are. They did a great job, managing to pull it off with humor, wit, and charm, all while also being actually informative. The morning concluded with a panel titled “OpenStack: Preferred Platform For PaaS Solutions” which had some interesting views. The panelists brought their expertise to the table to discuss what developers seeking to write to a platform wanted, and where OpenStack was weak and strong. It certainly seems to me that OpenStack is strongest as IaaS rather than PaaS, and it makes sense for OpenStack to continue focusing on being what they’ve called an “integration engine” to tie components together rather than focus on writing a PaaS solution directly. There was some talk about this on the panel, where some stressed that they did want to see OpenStack hooking into existing PaaS software offerings.


Great photo of Lisa and Monty by Gary Kevorkian, source

Lunch followed the morning talks, and I haven’t mentioned it, but the food at this event was quite good. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it was some of the best conference-supplied meals I’ve had. Nice job, folks!

Huge thanks to the OpenStack Days Mountain West crew for putting on the event. Lots of great talks and I enjoyed connecting with folks I knew, as well as meeting members of the community who haven’t managed to make it to one of the global events I’ve attended. It’s inspiring to meet with such passionate members of local groups like I found there.

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157676117696131

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[The Temples and Dinosaurs of SLC]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12312 2016-12-25T16:32:13Z 2016-12-25T16:32:13Z A few weeks ago I was in Salt Lake City for my last conference of the year. I was only there for a couple days, but I had some flexibility in my schedule. I was able to see most of the conference and still make time to sneak out to see some sights before my flight home at the conclusion of the conference.

The conference was located right near Temple Square. In spite of a couple flurries here and there, and the accompanying cold, I made time to visit out during lunch the first day of the conference. This square is where the most famous temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints resides, the Salt Lake Temple. Since I’d never been to Salt Lake City before, this landmark was the most obvious one to visit, and they had decorated it for Christmas.

While I don’t share their faith, it was worthy of my time. The temple is beautiful, everyone I met was welcoming and friendly, and there is important historical significance to the story of that church.

The really enjoyable time was that evening though. After some time at The Beer Hive I went for a walk with a couple colleagues through the square again, but this time all lit up with the Christmas lights! The lights were everywhere and spectacular.

And I’m sure regardless of the season, the temple itself at night is a sight to behold.

More photos from Temple Square here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157677633463925

The conference continued the next day and I departed in the afternoon to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah. Utah is a big deal when it comes to fossil hunting in the US, so I was eager to visit their dinosaur fossil exhibit. In addition to a variety of crafted scenes, it also features the “world’s largest display of horned dinosaur skulls” (source).

Unfortunately upon arrival I learned that the museum was without power. They were waving people in, but explained that there was only emergency lighting and some of the sections of the museum were completely closed. I sadly missed out on their very cool looking exhibit on poisons, and it was tricky seeing some of the areas that were open with so little light.

But the dinosaurs.

Have you ever seen dinosaur fossils under just emergency lighting? They were considerably more impactful and scary this way. Big fan.

I really enjoyed some of the shadows cast by their horned dinosaur skulls.

More photos from the museum here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157673744906273/

There should totally be an event where the fossils are showcased in this way in a planned manner. Alas, since this was unplanned, the staff decided in the late afternoon to close the museum early. This sent me on my way much earlier than I’d hoped. Still, I was glad I got to spend some time with the dinosaurs and hadn’t wasted much time elsewhere in the museum. If I’m ever in Salt Lake City again I would like to go back though, it was tricky to read the signs in such low light and I would like to have the experience as it was intended. Besides, I’ll rarely pass up the opportunity to see a good dinosaur exhibit. I haven’t been to the Salt Lake City Zoo yet, if it had been warmer I may have considered it – next time!

With that, my trip to Salt Lake City pretty much concluded. I made my way to the airport to head home that evening. This trip rounded almost a full month of being away from home, so I was particularly eager to get home and spend some time with MJ and the kitties.

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[Trains in NYC]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12283 2016-12-12T01:29:17Z 2016-12-12T01:29:17Z I’ve wanted to visit the New York Transit Museum ever since I discovered it existed. Housed in the retired Court station in Brooklyn, even the museum venue had “transit geek heaven” written all over it. I figured I’d visit it some day when work brought me to the city, but then I learned about the 15th Annual Holiday Train Show at their Annex and Store at Grand Central going on now. I’d love to see that! I ended up going up to the NYC from Philadelphia with my friend David last Sunday morning and made a day of it. Even better, we parked in New Jersey so had a full on transit experience from there into Manhattan and Brooklyn and back as the day progressed.

Our first stop was Grand Central Station via the 5 subway line. Somehow I’d never been there before. Enjoy the obligatory station selfie.

From there it was straight down to the Annex and Store run by the transit museum. The holiday exhibit had glittering signs hanging from the ceiling of everything from buses to transit cards to subway cars and snowflakes. The big draw though was the massive o-gauge model train setup, as the site explains:

This year’s Holiday Train Show display will feature a 34-foot-long “O gauge” model train layout with Lionel’s model Metro-North, New York Central, and vintage subway trains running on eight separate loops of track, against a backdrop featuring graphics celebrating the Museum’s 40th anniversary by artist Julia Rothman.

It was quite busy there, but folks were very clearly enjoying it. I’m really glad I went, even if the whole thing made me pine for my future home office train set all the more. Some day! It’s also worthy to note that this shop is the one to visit transit-wise. The museum in Brooklyn also had a gift shop but it was smaller and had fewer things, I highly recommend picking things up here, I ended up going back after the transit museum to get something I wanted.

We then hopped on the 4 subway line into Brooklyn to visit the actual transit museum. As advertised, it’s in a retired subway station, so the entrance looks like any other subway entrance and you take stairs underground. You enter and buy your ticket and then are free to explore both levels of the museum. The first had several exhibits that rotate, including one about Coney Island and another providing a history of crises in New York City (including 9/11, hurricane Sandy) and how the transit system and operators responded to them. They also had displays of a variety of turnstiles throughout the years, and exhibits talking about street car (trolley) lines and the introduction of the bus systems.

The exhibits were great, but it was downstairs that things got really fun. They have functioning rails where the subway trains used to run through where they’ve lined up over a dozen cars from throughout transit history in NYC for visitors to explore, inside and out.

The evolution of seat designs and configurations was interesting to witness and feel, as you could sit on the seats to get the full experience. Each car also had an information sign next to it, so you could learn about the era and the place of that car in it. Transitions between wood to metal, paired (and ..tripled?) cars were showcased, along with a bunch that were stand alone interchangables. I also enjoyed seeing a caboose, though I didn’t quite recognize at first (“is this for someone to live in?”).

A late lunch was due following the transit museum. We ended up at Sottocasa Pizzeria right there in Brooklyn. It got great reviews and I enjoyed it a lot, but was definitely on the fancy pizza side. They also had selection of Italian beers, of which I chose the delicious Nora by Birra Baladin. Don’t worry, next time I’m in New York I’ll go to a great, not fancy, pizza place.

It was then back to Manhattan to spend a bit more time at Grand Central and for an evening walk through the city. We started by going up 5th Avenue to see Rockefeller Square at night during the holidays. I hadn’t been to Manhattan since 2013 when I went with my friend Danita and I’d never seen the square all decked out for the holidays. I didn’t quite think it through though, it’s probably the busiest time of the year there so the whole neighborhood for blocks was insanely crowded. After seeing the skating rink and tree, we escaped northwest and made our way through the crowds up to Central Park. It was cold, but all the walking was fun even with the crowds. For dinner we ended up at Jackson Hole for some delicious burgers. I went with the Guacamole Burger.

The trip back to north Jersey took us through the brand new World Trade Center Transportation Hub to take the PATH. It’s a very unusual space. It’s all bright white with tons of marble shaped in a modern look, and has a shopping mall with a surreal amount of open space. The trip back on the PATH that night was as smooth as expected. In all, a very enjoyable day of public transit stuff!

More photos from Grand Central Station and the Transit Museum here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157677457519215

Epilogue: I received incredibly bad news the day after this visit to NYC. It cast a shadow over it for me. I went back and forth about whether I should write about this visit at all and how I should present it if I did. I decided to present it as it was that day. It was a great day of visiting the city and geeking out over trains, enjoyed with a close friend, and detached from whatever happened later. I only wish I could convince my mind to do the same.

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[UbuCon EU 2016]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12276 2016-12-12T00:03:10Z 2016-12-12T00:03:10Z Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Essen, Germany to attend UbuCon EU 2016. Europe has had UbuCons before, but the goal of this one was to make it a truly international event, bringing in speakers like me from all corners of the Ubuntu community to share our experiences with the European Ubuntu community. Getting to catch up with a bunch of my Ubuntu colleagues who I knew would be there and visiting Germany as the holiday season began were also quite compelling reasons for me to attend.

The event formally kicked off Saturday morning with a welcome and introduction by Sujeevan Vijayakumaran, he reported that 170 people registered for the event and shared other statistics about the number of countries attendees were from. He also introduced a member of the UbPorts team, Marius Gripsgård, who announced the USB docking station for Ubuntu Touch devices they were developing, more information in this article on their website: The StationDock.

Following these introductions and announcements, we were joined by Canonical CEO Jane Silber who provided a tour of the Ubuntu ecosystem today. She highlighted the variety of industries where Ubuntu was key, progress with Ubuntu on desktops/laptops, tablets, phones and venturing into the smart Internet of Things (IoT) space. Her focus was around the amount of innovation we’re seeing in the Ubuntu community and from Canonical, and talked about specifics regarding security, updates, the success in the cloud and where Ubuntu Core fits into the future of computing.

I also loved that she talked about the Ubuntu community. The strength of local meetups and events, the free support community that spans a variety of resources, ongoing work by the various Ubuntu flavors. She also spoke to the passion of Ubuntu contributors, citing comics and artwork that community members have made, including the stunning series of release animal artwork by Sylvia Ritter from right there in Germany, visit them here: Ubuntu Animals. I was also super thrilled that she mentioned the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter as a valuable resource for keeping up with the community, a very small group of folks works very hard on it and that kind of validation is key to sustaining motivation.

The next talk I attended was by Fernando Lanero Barbero on Linux is education, Linux is science. Ubuntu to free educational environments. Fernando works at a school district in Spain where he has deployed Ubuntu across hundreds of computers, reaching over 1200 students in the three years he’s been doing the work. The talk outlined the strengths of the approach, explaining that there was cost savings for his school and also how Ubuntu and open source software is more in line with the school values. One of the key takeaways from his experience was one that I know a lot about from our own Linux in schools experiences here in the US at Partimus: focus on the people, not the technologies. We’re technologists who love Linux and want to promote it, but without engagement, understanding and buy-in from teachers, deployments won’t be successful. A lot of time needs to be spent making assessments of their needs, doing roll-outs slowly and methodically so that the change doesn’t happen to abruptly and leave them in a lurch. He also stressed the importance of consistency with the deployments. Don’t get super creative across machines, use the same flavor for everything, even the same icon set. Not everyone is as comfortable with variation as we are, and you want to make the transition as easy as possible across all the systems.

Laura Fautley (Czajkowski) spoke at the next talk I went to, on Supporting Inclusion & Involvement in a Remote Distributed Team. The Ubuntu community itself is distributed across the globe, so drawing experience from her work there and later at several jobs where she’s had to help manage communities, she had a great list of recommendations as you build out such a team. She talked about being sensitive to time zones, acknowledgement that decisions are sometimes made in social situations rather than that you need to somehow document and share these decisions with the broader community. She was also eager to highlight how you need to acknowledge and promote the achievements in your team, both within the team and to the broader organization and project to make sure everyone feels valued and so that everyone knows the great work you’re doing. Finally, it was interesting to hear some thoughts about remote member on-boarding, stressing the need to have a process so that new contributors and team mates can quickly get up to speed and feel included from the beginning.

I went to a few other talks throughout the two day event, but one of the big reasons for me attending was to meet up with some of my long-time friends in the Ubuntu community and finally meet some other folks face to face. We’ve had a number of new contributors join us since we stopped doing Ubuntu Developer Summits and today UbuCons are the only Ubuntu-specific events where we have an opportunity to meet up.


Laura Fautley, Elizabeth K. Joseph, Alan Pope, Michael Hall

Of course I was also there to give a pair of talks. I first spoke on Contributing to Ubuntu on Desktops (slides) which is a complete refresh of a talk I gave a couple of times back in 2014. The point of that talk was to pull people back from the hype-driven focus on phones and clouds for a bit and highlight some of the older projects that still need contributions. I also spoke on Building a career with Ubuntu and FOSS (slides) which was definitely the more popular talk. I’ve given a similar talk for a couple UbuCons in the past, but this one had the benefit of being given while I’m between jobs. This most recent job search as I sought out a new role working directly with open source again gave a new dimension to the talk, and also made for an amusing intro, “I don’t have a job at this very moment …but without a doubt I will soon!” And in fact, I do have something lined up now.


Thanks to Tiago Carrondo for taking this picture during my talk! (source)

The venue for the conference was a kind of artists space, which made it a bit quirky, but I think worked out well. We had a couple social gatherings there at the venue, and buffet lunches were included in our tickets, which meant we didn’t need to go far or wait on food elsewhere.

I didn’t have a whole lot of time for sight-seeing this trip because I had a lot going on stateside (like having just bought a house!) but I did get to enjoy the beautiful Christmas Market in Essen a few of nights while I was there.

For those of you not familiar with German Christmas Markets (I wasn’t), they close roads downtown and pop up streets of wooden shacks that sell everything from Christmas ornaments and cookies to hot drinks, beers and various hot foods. We went the first night I was in town we met up with several fellow conference-goers and got some fries with mayonnaise, grilled mushrooms with Bearnaise sauce, my first taste of German Glühwein (mulled wine) and hot chocolate. The next night we went was a quick walk through the market that landed us at a steakhouse where we had a late dinner and a couple beers.

The final night we didn’t stay out late, but did get some much anticipated Spanish churros, which inexplicably had sugar rather than the cinnamon I’m used to, as well as a couple more servings of Glühwein, this time in commemorative Christmas mugs shaped like boots!


Clockwise from top left: José Antonio Rey, Philip Ballew, Michael Hall, John and Laura Fautley, Elizabeth K. Joseph

The next morning I was up bright and early to catch a 6:45AM train that started me on my three train journey back to Amsterdam to fly back to Philadelphia.

It was a great little conference and a lot of fun. Huge thanks to Sujeevan for being so incredibly welcoming to all of us, and thanks to all the volunteers who worked for months to make the event happen. Also thanks to Ubuntu community members who donate to the community fund since I would have otherwise had to self-fund to attend.

More photos from the event (and the Christmas Market!) here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157676958738915

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[Vacation Home in Pennsylvania]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12261 2016-12-05T19:21:48Z 2016-12-05T19:21:48Z This year MJ and I embarked on a secret mission: Buy a vacation home in Pennsylvania.

It was a decision we’d mulled over for a couple years, and the state of the real estate market along with our place in lives, careers and frequent visits back to the Philadelphia area finally made the stars align to make it happen. With the help of family local to the area, including one who is a real estate agent, we spent the past few trips taking time to look at houses and make some decisions. In August we started signing the paperwork to take possession of a new home in November.

With the timing of our selection, we were able to pick out cabinets, counter tops and some of the other non-architectural options in the home. Admittedly none of that is my thing, but it’s still nice that we were able to put our touch on the end result. As we prepared for the purchase, MJ spent a lot of time making plans for taking care of the house and handling things like installations, deliveries and the move of our items from storage into the house.

In October we also bought a car that we’d be keeping at the house in Philadelphia, though we did enjoy it in California for a few weeks.

On November 15th we met at the title company office and signed the final paperwork.

The house was ours!

The next day I flew to Germany for a conference and MJ headed back to San Francisco. I enjoyed the conference and a few days in Germany, but I was eager to get back to the house.

Upon my return we had our first installation. Internet! And backup internet.

MJ came back into town for Thanksgiving which we enjoyed with family. The day after was the big move from storage into the house. Our storage units not only had our own things that we’d left in Pennsylvania, but everything from MJ’s grandparents, which included key contents of their own former vacation home which I never saw. We moved his grandmother into assisted care several years ago and had been keeping their things until we got a larger home in California. With the house here in Pennsylvania we decided to use some of the pieces to furnish the house here. It also meant I have a lot of boxes to go through.

Before MJ left to head back to work in San Francisco we did get a few things unpacked, including Champagne glasses, which meant on Saturday night following the move day we were able to pick up a proper bottle of Champagne and spend the evening together in front of the fireplace to celebrate.

I’d been planning on taking some time off following the layoff from my job as I consider new opportunities in the coming year. It ended up working well since I’ve been able to do that, plus spend the past week here in the Philadelphia house unpacking and getting the house set up. Several of the days I’ve also had to be here at the house to receive deliveries and be present for installs of all kinds to make sure the house is ready and secure (cameras!) for us to properly enjoy as soon as possible. Today is window blinds day. I am getting to enjoy it some too, between all these tasks I’ve spent time with local friends and family, had some time reading in front of the fireplace, have enjoyed a beautiful new Bluetooth speaker playing music all day. The house doesn’t have a television yet, but I have also curled up to watch a few episodes on my tablet here and there in the evenings as well.

There have also been some great sunsets in the neighborhood. I sure missed the Pennsylvania autumn sights and smells.

And not all the unpacking has been laborious. I found MJ’s telescope from years ago in storage and I was able to set that up the other night. Looking forward a clear night to try it out.

Tomorrow I’m flying off yet again for a conference and then to spend at least a week at home back in San Francisco. We’ll be back very soon though, planning on spending at least the eight days of Hanukkah here, and possibly flying in earlier if we can line up some of the other work we need to get done.

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[Breathtaking Barcelona]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12240 2016-12-04T03:18:13Z 2016-12-04T03:18:13Z My father once told me that Madrid was his favorite city and that he generally loved Spain. When my aunt shipped me a series of family slides last year I was delighted to find ones from Madrid in the mix, I uploaded the album: Carl A. Krumbach – Spain 1967. I wish I had asked him why he loved Madrid, but in October I had the opportunity myself to learn why I now love Spain.

I landed in Barcelona the last week of October. First, it was a beautiful time to visit. Nice weather that wasn’t too hot or too cold. It rained over night a couple times and a bit some days, but not enough to deter activities, and I was busy with a conference during most of the days anyway. It was also warm enough to go swimming in the Mediterranean, though I failed to avail myself of this opportunity. The day I got in I met up with a couple friends to go to the aquarium, walk around the coastline and was able to touch the sea for the first time. That evening I also had my first of three seafood paellas that I enjoyed throughout the week. So good.

The night life was totally a thing. Many places would offer tapas along with drinks, so one night a bunch of us went out and just ate and drank our way through the Gothic Quarter. The restaurants also served late, often not even starting dinner service until 8PM. One night at midnight we found ourselves at a steakhouse dining on a giant steak that served the table and drinking a couple bottles of cava. Oh the cava, it was plentiful and inexpensive. As someone who lives in California these days I felt a bit bad by betraying my beloved California wine, but it was really good. I also enjoyed the Sangrias.

A couple mornings after evenings when I didn’t let the drinks get the better of me, I also went out for a run. Running along the beaches in Barcelona was a tiny slice of heaven. It was also wonderful to just go sit by the sea one evening when I needed some time away from conference chaos.


Seafood paella lunch for four! We also had a couple beers.

All of this happened before I even got out to do much tourist stuff. Saturday was my big day for seeing the famous sights. Early in the week I reserved tickets to see the Sagrada Familia Basilica. I like visiting religious buildings when I travel because they tend to be on the extravagant side. Plus, back at the OpenStack Summit in Paris we heard from a current architect of the building and I’ve since seen a documentary about the building and nineteenth century architect Antoni Gaudí. I was eager to see it, but nothing quite prepared me for the experience. I had tickets for 1:30PM and was there right on time.


Sagrada Familia selfie!

It was the most amazing place I’ve ever been.

The architecture sure is unusual but once you let that go and just enjoy it, everything comes together in a calming way that I’ve never quite experienced before. The use of every color through the hundreds of stained glass windows was astonishing.

I didn’t do the tower tour on this trip because once I realized how special this place was I wanted to save something new to do there the next time I visit.

The rest of my day was spent taking one of the tourist buses around town to get a taste of a bunch of the other sights. I got a glimpse of a couple more buildings by Gaudí. In the middle of the afternoon I stopped at a tapas restaurant across from La Monumental, a former bullfighting ring. They outlawed bullfighting several years ago, but the building is still used for other events and is worth seeing for the beautiful tiled exterior, even just on the outside.

I also walked through the Arc de Triomf and made my way over to the Barcelona Cathedral. After the tour bus brought me back to the stop near my hotel I spent the rest of the late afternoon enjoying some time at the beach.

That evening I met up with my friend Clint to do one last wander around the area. We stopped at the beach and had some cava and cheese. From there we went to dinner where we split a final paella and bottle of cava. Dessert was a Catalan cream, which is a lot like a crème brûlée but with cinnamon, yum!

As much as I wanted to stay longer and enjoy the gorgeous weather, the next morning I was scheduled to return home.

I loved Barcelona. It stole my heart like no other European city ever has and it’s now easily one of my favorite cities. I’ll be returning, hopefully sooner than later.

More photos from my adventures in Barcelona here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157674260004081

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pleia2 http://www.princessleia.com <![CDATA[OpenStack book and Infra team at the Ocata Summit]]> http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12224 2016-12-02T14:58:06Z 2016-12-02T14:58:06Z At the end of October I attended the OpenStack Ocata Summit in beautiful Barcelona. My participation in this was a bittersweet one for me. It was the first summit following the release of our Common OpenStack Deployments book and OpenStack Infrastructure tooling was featured in a short keynote on Wednesday morning, making for quite the exciting summit. Unfortunately it also marked my last week with HPE and an uncertain future with regard to my continued full time participation with the OpenStack Infrastructure team. It was also the last OpenStack Summit where the conference and design summit are being hosted together, so the next several months will be worth keeping an eye on community-wise. Still, I largely took the position of assuming I’d continue to be able to work on the team, just with more caution in regards to work I was signing up for.

The first thing that I discovered during this summit was how amazing Barcelona is. The end of October presented us with some amazing weather for walking around and the city doesn’t go to sleep early, so we had plenty of time in the evenings to catch up with each other over drinks and scrumptious tapas. It worked out well since there were fewer sponsored parties in the evenings at this summit and attendance seemed limited at the ones that existed.

The high point for me at the summit was having the OpenStack Infrastructure tooling for handling our fleet of compute instances featured in a keynote! Given my speaking history, I was picked from the team to be up on the big stage with Jonathan Bryce to walk through a demonstration where we removed one of our US cloud providers and added three more in Europe. While the change was landing and tests started queuing up we also took time to talk about how tests are done against OpenStack patch sets across our various cloud providers.


Thanks to Johanna Koester for taking this picture (source)

It wasn’t just me presenting though. Clark Boylan and Jeremy Stanley were sitting in the front row making sure the changes landed and everything went according to plan during the brief window that this demonstration took up during the keynote. I’m thrilled to say that this live demonstration was actually the best run we had of all the testing, seeing all the tests start running on our new providers live on stage in front of such a large audience was pretty exciting. The team has built something really special here, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to help highlight that in the community with a keynote.


Mike Perez and David F. Flanders sitting next to Jeremy and Clark as they monitor demonstration progress. Photo credit for this one goes to Chris Hoge (source)

The full video of the keynote is available here: Demoing the World’s Largest Multi-Cloud CI Application

A couple of conference talks were presented by members of the Infrastructure team as well. On Tuesday Colleen Murphy, Paul Belanger and Ricardo Carrillo Cruz presented on the team’s Infra-Cloud. As I’ve written about before, the team has built a fully open source OpenStack cloud using the community Puppet modules and donated hardware and data center space from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. This talk outlined the architecture of that cloud, some of the challenges they’ve encountered, statistics from how it’s doing now and future plans. Video from their talk is here: InfraCloud, a Community Cloud Managed by the Project Infrastructure Team.

James E. Blair also gave a talk during the conference, this time on Zuul version 3. This version of Zuul has been under development for some time, so this was a good opportunity to update the community on the history of the Zuul project in general and why it exists, status of ongoing efforts with an eye on v3 and problems it’s trying to solve. I’m also in love with his slide deck, it was all text-based (including some “animations”!) and all with an Art Deco theme. Video from his talk is here: Zuul v3: OpenStack and Ansible Native CI/CD.

As usual, the Infrastructure team also had a series of sessions related to ongoing work. As a quick rundown, we have Etherpads for all the sessions (read-only links provided):

Friday concluded with a Contributors Meetup for the Infrastructure team in the afternoon where folks split off into small groups to tackle a series of ongoing projects together. I was also able to spend some time with the Internationalization (i18n) team that Friday afternoon. I dragged along Clark so someone else on the team could pick up where I left off in case I have less time in the future. We talked about the pending upgrade of Zanata and plans for a translations checksite, making progress on both fronts, especially when we realized that there’s a chance we could get away with just running a development version of Horizon itself, with a more stable back end.


With the i18n team!

Finally, the book! It was the first time I was able to see Matt Fischer, my contributing author, since the book came out. Catching up with him and signing a book together was fun. Thanks to my publisher I was also thrilled to donate the signed copies I brought along to the Women of OpenStack Speed Mentoring event on Tuesday morning. I wasn’t able to attend the event, but they were given out on my behalf, thanks to Nithya Ruff for handling the giveaway.


Thanks to Nithya Ruff for taking a picture of me with my book at the Women of OpenStack area of the expo hall (source) and Brent Haley for getting the picture of Lisa-Marie and I (source).

I was also invited to sit down with Lisa-Marie Namphy to chat about the book and changes to the OpenStack Infrastructure team in the Newton cycle. The increase in capacity to over 2000 test instances this past cycle was quite the milestone so I enjoyed talking about that. The full video is up on YouTube: OpenStack® Project Infra: Elizabeth K. Joseph shares how test capacity doubled in Newton

In all, it was an interesting summit with a lot of change happening in the community and with partner companies. The people that make the community are still there though and it’s always enjoyable spending time together. My next OpenStack event is coming up quickly, next week I’ll be speaking at OpenStack Days Mountain West on the The OpenStack Project Continuous Integration System. I’ll also have a pile of books to give away at that event!

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