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Since Edmonton

Aside from big things I’ve written about these past three weeks, I’ve been pretty occupied otherwise too. Upon leaving Edmonton on the night of Memorial day I thought I was suffering from allergies, but the following days proved that I had a pretty miserable cold which lasted through the week and rendered me relatively unproductive. The following Tuesday, suffering from the less miserable end of the cold, I woke up with no voice, the first time I’ve been stricken with laryngitis in my life! Wednesday I hosted that Ubuntu Hour and Debian dinner, and I met up with some friends Friday evening but effectively my cold lingered through the weekend. I managed to get out to the dentist for our appointments and we had lunch out at Ferry Building on Saturday (and pick up some goodies for later), but it wasn’t until last week that I was really back to feeling like myself.

Having a cold for a couple weeks meant I wasn’t adventuring quite so much which meant I could chip away at my todo list as I felt up to it and when I didn’t I crashed in a pile of blankets and kitties on the couch and watched TV. This led me to finally watching several episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker and now that I’m halfway through the season I’m terribly disappointed that the show never made it past that solitary season.

I did a lot of sysadminy work at home these past few weeks. Not only did I make sure all my remote servers were ready for IPv6, I finally upgraded my primary VPS (a Linode in Dallas) to Debian Squeeze, upgraded the HE.net VPS from MJ to Squeeze and re-installed my Ramhost VPS with Debian (it had been running Ubuntu, but Ramhost has much better support for Debian). I also took the down time to upgrade my desktop, which I’ll now admit to everyone was still running Ubuntu Lucid. For all my meerkat love I was only ever running it on my desktop for about 30 minutes as I was passing through on my upgrade to Natty. I still have a server out there running Maverick, which I’d really rather see on an LTS, but that’s a project for another day (and perhaps another year, bringing it to 12.04 is probably optimal).

The most important of these changes ended up being the re-installation of the Ramhost I use for miscellaneous Ubuntu work and give Ubuntu friends shell accounts on. The re-installation let me move forward on a couple of projects that I’d been waiting on re-installation for since I didn’t want to have to migrate them. The first is the staging site for the new Xubuntu.org, which we’re planning to move to WordPress. Our web developer and designer has been busy these past couple weeks making his flat image file proposed theme into a beautiful WordPress theme. The second project was getting a test MoinMoin wiki install running so I could get the web developers in Ubuntu Women access to a platform where they could help with the bugs I’ve filed against the new theme before we make it live later this cycle for wiki.ubuntu-women.org. The final major project was the Ubuntu Classroom bots that I’ve been running on that server – they are irssi + perl scripts and built with Ubuntu in mind, so the move to Debian and my reluctance to install anything from CPAN for them was a big change. Fortunately it only took about an hour to get a proper list together for everything that is required. We’re also now running them with updated OO Perl code so there are some bugs to work out, but we’re making progress.

Last weekend I was finally able to get the Partimus blog set up and a couple of basic posts pushed out, including one about the Ubuntu earring fundraiser. I also worked with Nathan Handler to get issue 220 of the Ubuntu Weekly News (UWN) out the door. There was a lot of discussion about UWN at the Ubuntu Developer Summit last month, but unfortunately the retiring editor was injured on her way back from the summit and has been largely unavailable. The main take-away from the discussions is that it needs to be easier to create – the first time Nathan and I tackled this back in January it took about 36 man hours to complete, which is insane. The weekend we worked on issue 220 I’d estimate that we got it under 20 but it was still quite a task. So we’re eagerly looking for shortcuts, simplifications and ways to make it easier for people to contribute to tasks that don’t require a major investment of time or commitment level.

We took Caligula to the vet recently for a follow-up visit to get another blood test done. The assumption had been the abnormal protein levels we saw during his blood test back in January were caused by dental disease and they would clear up after the dental cleaning and work was done. Unfortunately this latest blood test proved that assumption to be wrong and we need to take him back this weekend for an abdominal ultrasound to see if they can find anything wrong which may be causing this. Poor guy, I am trying not to worry too much.

So I’ve been busy, but a major helper through all of this is my new favorite task manager: Taskwarrior. Nathan Haines recommended it to me a couple weeks ago, it’s an amazing CLI-based program that I now can’t live without. The interface is pretty straight-forward for simple management with “task add” “task done” but is highly extendable and has options that makes us CLI geeks squee with excitement, it’s very obvious that the authors are also CLI geeks. I have to admit that over the years my attempts to find a software task management have not gone well. I’ve tried all kinds of things from branded task management software to more creative solutions like using a wiki for task tracking. I always came back to inbox + scraps of paper. This simple method works remarkably well as someone who works from home but it left me out in the cold when it came to the ability to easily look back and see what I completed in a week – inbox items were filed into one of my 100+ mail directories and scraps of paper had items crossed out and were thrown away. With Taskwarrior a simple “task completed” gives me a full listing of everything completed. Awesome.

After my cold ended I was able to get back to adventuring! Last week I made plans to go to an Oakland A’s game on Wednesday evening with my friend Mark who got us some awesome seats for the game on Wednesday night.

Elmo threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

And we got to watch the A’s win 2-1!

More photos from the game here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157626852251195/

Eager to finally get some of my outside home todo list items taken care of I met up with the founder of Partimus on Saturday morning to get some banking handled for the organization. It went pretty smoothly, I’m meeting up with the executive director this evening to get his signature on some documents. After the bank I rushed back to SF to drop off a laptop to a visiting Wikimedia employee and then swung by the store to pick up some chips on my way out to the Walnut Creek Geeknic.

As always the geeknic was a lot of fun! Got to spend a lot of time with folks I don’t get nearly enough face time with normally and for an event planned with such little fanfare we had a great turnout (probably over 20) and Mark did a great job making sure all our food was cooked and everyone was doing alright and feeling welcome.

More photos from the geeknic here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157626874010053/

After the geeknic I spent some time reviewing a Python script we use for grabbing the list of updates that we list in each Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. The previous scripts were functional but required manual editing of multiple scripts each month, which felt a bit excessive. Once I had a plan for the behavior I wanted MJ helped me narrow down the proper built in module to use and walked me through the Python way to do the task and a lot of style considerations. I soon joined other PyLadies with a commit to an open source project on Saturday.

Sunday morning I spent some time working to make sure we could get issue 221 of the Ubuntu Weekly News prepped for release by today. Unfortunately the recent Ubuntu wiki upgrade didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked and effectively left me unable to edit the wiki until today. We did preparatory work in Google docs and I snuck in time today during lunch to put the last bit of polish on it before release.

Sunday afternoon I started the massive task of cleaning my office. The office, a den in our condo, is pretty much the last place in our condo to have boxes. As such it has an almost magical tendency to collect dust that resists cleaning, so the only way to clean it is to take everything out and wipe it all down. By the time I had everything out of the office (including all the computers and cable modem powered off and unplugged!) it dawned on me that it would be a good time to put together my new desk and push forward on plans to finish up the space.

Hooray new desk! MJ also found some great shelving that we can put computers on for next to my desk. When I say it that way it’s much less dorky than “I have a computer rack in my office” right? I still need to find some drawers for under my desk, we went out last night to look at some options but nothing we saw sparked our interest. We’ll have another look at the offerings from Ikea and probably do some more browsing online. For now my old desk is sitting behind me piled with boxes and still containing all my desk things in its drawers.

This week I’m mostly staying in to work through some more project work, will probably head out for Linux Discussion night at Noisebridge on Wednesday though.

elizabeth@coruscant:~$ task 2 done
Completed 2 ‘since edmonton post’
Marked 1 task as done