Older blog entries for mattr (starting at number 12)

Found an interesting site yesterday dealing with Community Technology Centers. Particularly nifty was the startup manual, providing a step-by-step guide to getting such a thing going. It covers everything from formation of a steering committee, to non-profit incorporation (if that's what you want to do), to the tech side of things. It was a great find, as I'm really interested in doing this kind of thing. But the tech side does get a little puzzling...

The chapter dealing with software selection makes no mention of open source or free software! Shareware/public domain is mentioned, but the guide seems to assume that any CTC would consist of Windows boxen.

Not that a CTC should necessarily exclude Windows boxen, but clearly if you're trying to start a technology center with public funding, you do well to use a lot of free software, right? I'd probably seek individual sponsors for Windows boxen licenses... ;)

At any rate, I like the guide - more good help on the 'How to Start a Non-Profit' front. Zen and the Art of Making a Living has also been helpful, but I've been stuck over a year now just trying to figure out what my mission, etc. really is. I could ramble on about such a thing without any trouble, but when it comes to framing a concise mission statement, I have trouble. There's too much I want to do...

Still, I feel I'm slowly getting a better idea of what I'll do with the non-profit paperlove.org will eventually become... [I want to be a non-profit when I grow up. And considering the red tape/paperwork involved in such a thing, that might just be another subconscious reason behind the domain name...]

Working with the community to create a community technology center would be a great start, I think. I've got a mental list of potential collaborators, advisers, sponsors, etc. started. The real challenge will be determining the focus based on community needs. There's a sizeable Hispanic population here, but I don't even know Spanish (the CTC startup guide suggests that many who speak a foreign language would still prefer to learn computer skills in English language software, but some Spanish-speaking volunteers/staff would be good nonetheless). Then again, perhaps that part of the community wouldn't even be interested. That's why finding the focus will be the hard part...Might help if I was in the community more...An introverted computer geek catch-22, I guess?

Made some progress somehow yesterday hacking on this activity report thing in between games of NetHack. I must blame lev for making me think of NetHack. Saw the blurb about wop on lev's site, and soon I was wasting time in the dungeon again. Lousy games, all, but it's such an entertaining game nonetheless!

Now I'm stalling though. Just switched monitors on my G3 - gave it the newer, borrowed monitor I'd been using on the 7100/66, since the 7100 is rarely on anyway these days and the G3 benefits much more from a better monitor.

Eventually perhaps I'll do something else with the 7100 entirely. It's a pain, apparently, to run Linux on such Macs. mkLinux runs on some old NuBus Macs, but if I remember correctly, not mine. Even NetBSD(!) won't run on that Mac, last I checked. One day maybe I'll learn enough to help make 'em work... just gimme a few years. ;)

Since I'm babbling about the old machines, might as well add that my Amiga's quite sad these days. I was a bit too impatient, I think, attempting to add RAM a month or two ago. Had the ZIP banks fully populated with 256x4 chips, but one bank had issues when originally installed back in the day, leaving me with 5MB total - 2 chip, 3 fast. Finally splurged (after 10 years or so...) on some 1M ZIPs, but I wound up with no fast RAM at all after removing the 256x chips and installing the 1M chips. And oh, the horror of installing those ZIPs... Makes me not want to deal with it ever again, but I still want more RAM... She deserves it after all these years, by golly...

Hm. Think I'll play a game of NetHack and get back to work... Right.

4 May 2002 (updated 4 May 2002 at 00:16 UTC) »

Wow, some recent certification magically changed me into an Apprentice! Thanks to everybody who's taken the time to click on me and stuff. :)

Find it more interesting the more I visit here. Seeing some folks with hundreds of diary entries... folks who've done really neat things, useful things, important things.

...Thinking it's pretty neat that a co-founder of the Linux Professional Institute can agree that my web site is strange. Thanks, dyork! I have considered throwing some colorific randomness, and probably will do so at some point. Won't want to leave that to complete chance (complete approximated chance) though, as that could lead to some pretty hideous and unreadable pages. [And congratulations w.r.t. Chloe - what a cutie! All of our kids are four-legged and furry. :)]

What everyone misses out on by not registering and creating pages (plug, plug) is the fun profile page listing of your pages... which, of course, only gives you a random excerpt from the first 15 pages you've created... fun fun fun.

Not sure what's technically interesting though... I'm more interested in it perceptually, I think. Knowing the pieces are essentially randomly thrown together, how often do I create connections? How often do I think of something in a new light because of a strange new juxtaposition?

Some friends and I (we called ourselves the Losers) haunted a cafe when we were in high school, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes for hours, and sometimes playing free association. Playing off of one another in a circle, from granola to Darth Vader in one circuit. Challenging each other when the associations were extremely bizarre...

Hmm...seems like there's a quantum entanglement module for Perl... Throwing some quantum mechanics in the mix could be cool. ;)

Just remembered out of the blue seeing someone's diary or notes lead off with 'I'm a generalist.' Thought it was neat, as I also consider myself somewhat of a generalist. Finished calculus 3 in eleventh grade and that was the last time I touched 'the math.' The math is just not as cool as the thoughts, implications, correlations, etc. So I couldn't major in a scientific field -- would be too difficult to choose one. Instead, I majored in communications, and upon graduation, swore off institutionalized education for a while (my aversion is starting to lose strength...and funny, I'll probably first consider going back to study more math).

I imagine there's a real need for generalists right now... Folks who go after a broad spectrum of knowledge but who keep enough distance to make observations from a variety of fields, perhaps draw new conclusions from them, perhaps interpret them for others...

Anywho...'nuff for now.

3 May 2002 (updated 3 May 2002 at 15:18 UTC) »

Rainy morning...Neighbor woke us up holding on to Gracie, who may or may not be in heat again (he said she and a stallion up the road were eyeing each other)...And then late to work, thought not by much. I've been much tardier.

. . .
jnewbigin mentioned something about a PHP module that does SMB authentication on April 30... That might be a direction to think in for the activity report stuff I typed about ?yesterday?.

I was reading some other diary entries and noticed people thanking others for their certifications -- say! That's a good idea -- thanks to those who have clicked me nearer to Apprentice-ship. :)

Still interested to see how things progress here. I can only comment on my own behavior here, but given my own status as a yucky gray-bar person, if I have spare moments to read other diaries, I read other Observer diary entries and perhaps certify them. I notice that several of my certifications have come from fellow gray-bar Advogatans...so this must be a pattern. We arrive as newbies and see all these Masters, Journeypersons, and Apprentices... talking to each other via diary entries, able to post and respond to main page articles...

Since they're busy doing all of that, we the observers have to certify each other and hope/cross-fingers that eventually we'll make some progress (both in what we're doing that warrants certification and in the certification itself).

It's a study in ingroup/outgroup dynamics, sorta. The Master movers and shakers need not even visit -- their contributions stand alone, and they'll remain certified as Masters for a good while... They may know each other, at least be familiar with the others' names. They've 'paid their dues.'

Then there are also some mid-level folks with their circles...their more significant projects (than my listed project, for instance...hehe)

Then there are the newbies... with no spheres of influence, no circles of friends, no clue. And when I look at some other new users and what they're involved in...I see that Apprentice applies to a pretty wide range of folks/skill levels. I'd be more fittingly classified (if I must...) as a Dabbler or Student or something.
. . .
More later maybe. Better do something useful for a while though.

2 May 2002 (updated 2 May 2002 at 20:48 UTC) »

What someone had to say about www.paperlove.org:

that is the weirdest website i've ever seen in my life.
tractor

I appreciate a comment like that. :o)

Wow, it's May.

Yesterday I realized a silly old include from day 1 of my PHP/MySQL education was missing from the WhoNose tarball. So I added that a minute ago. I don't think anyone noticed. ;)

In other news... Work with GOVIA is proceeding, albeit slowly. Next on the agenda is refining the submission process handled by what we're calling 'heralds.' As a part of that, we're looking at classification schemes for the media types, which is a task in itself.

Still, it behooves us to rough out some classification before we get the herald process worked out.

I'm also now beginning work on a project for my employer. Employees are to complete weekly reports detailing their activities. The reports then are compiled by department and posted on the company intranet. Currently, this is done with MS Word documents -- each employee has the template and at the end of each week, we email the finished document to our team leader so they can address anything that needs addressing. They merge the team reports and send them to my manager, who's responsible for getting the reports on the intranet.

Trouble is that my manager wastes oodles of time just making stuff look decent -- standardizing fonts and bullets and such (as folks are always changing what's in their document). He wanted a way to streamline that process, so for a while I was looking at utilities that I could work into a Perl script or something to convert *.doc to plain text, add HTML tags and concatenate the reports as necessary.

But a better solution, which he secured some kind of approval for (not sure what 'approval' even means around here sometimes), is a nifty web interface to the whole process.

Originally thinking in the simplest terms, I told him I could get something together in probably 30 minutes that would do what we needed. But the more I thought about, the more useful I realized it could be, so I can't do a quick & dirty job on it.

Current questions revolve around the best way to store the reports and what the pipeline will be like for reports to make it to the official listing on the intranet (including a trip up the chain of command for problems to be resolved).

All I heard was of an 'approval,' so I'm using the tools with which I'm comfortable: the AMP of LAMP, just running on NetBSD instead of Linux. I hope it will be a good way to demonstrate the value of some free software here. I also hope that whenever it's presentable the company might allow me to put it under a public license. It would be a waste to treat it as proprietary, methinks, and it would be good for us, mealsothinks, to acknowledge and contribute to the community as a corporate body.

Anyway... peas.

Last night I finished up the uh, 'packaging' of WhoNose 0.2a and put up a couple of pages to go along with it.

It's a big mess though. I decided to release it before I went through all of the scripts to remove embarrassing evidence of incompetence. Still, in the spirit of openness, it's there and available for hecklers and such who'd like to make fun of a newbie and a new project. :)

With a little leftover motivation afterwards, I also put the Gist source up, but the server where it lives has since disappeared due to (apparently) DNS issues.

The license for WhoNose might strike, oh everyone?, as bizarre, stupid, superfluous, etc... But oh well, that's the way I feel about it. Too much yadda yadda me/mine legalistic crap when it comes to licenses these days. So rather than spend a week choosing 'the right license for me' I just rolled my own there too, one that accurately conveys my perspective on the question of licensing.

Anyway, enough for now. On to other things...

A quickie today as I covertly reinstall NetBSD on my old spare box (P133! 48MB RAM!) in the cube farm... [It's best not to make a big deal of it...Unix apparently makes them nervous, whoever they are.]

Meanwhile, the wave on which I was riding high a week ago has broken. I'm paddling around a bit now, digging on the salt. Waiting for the Next Wave. And drinking coffee.

Found myself in quite a trough yesterday. Standard after all these years of what could probably be diagnosed as mild bipolar disorder... except I recognize the cycles these days.

Began to rise again though...always happens that way. Doesn't feel like a surfworthy wave, though, just a swell. Still waiting.

Still compiling too.

"Surf with God."
-Lifesavers

13 Apr 2002 (updated 13 Apr 2002 at 15:20 UTC) »

The Day Job calls for employees to let management know when they obtain other (additional) employment. Specifically, the policy states that other employment "includes any employment outside Day Job for which one receives compensation."

I thought it would be going above and beyond the call of Day Job Duty, therefore, to inform them of my potential "employment" working with the open source world. I also wanted to address the intellectual property issues up front so that something like this wouldn't have to come up. It's a concern because I really don't remember what I signed when I was hired. (Our bills urged me not to, if I recall.) But I do work for a software company, and I don't want anyone trying to pull a fast one.

Got a word back today...

As long as what you are doing doesn't use any Day Job intellectual property or is a competing product, and as long as you aren't doing it on Day Job time or Day Job equipment, you should be just fine. Please do an Other Employment Form for our files.

The first two restrictions (using Day Job IP or creating competing product) are easy - No way. No problem. Those are reasonable.

But I sit daily and watch employees wasting their time doing all manner of things with company equipment. Instant Messaging, personal web surfing, playing games, emailing family and friends... It goes on in every company to a degree, I'm sure, and I believe it should be allowed, even encouraged. It makes for more satisfied employees and more satisfied employees lead to other Good Things.

You'd think contributing to volunteer open source projects would appear to an employer as a Good Thing, similar to the perception of employees' annual donations to various charities for which we collect in-house. You'd think our employers would be glad to have employees motivated and willing enough to put their time and effort into such things. Yet, to stick to the letter of the law (right! all 8.143e67 of those letters... but that's another rant...), I'd better just go back to my mundane instant messaging and web surfing, rather than work on some code during some downtime.

Not that that isn't also technically a violation of company policy. It just happens to be the policy that everyone tends to ignore.

And note that what I am doing is technically not a violation of company policy, as I receive no compensation (barring any overly broad legal interpretations of the word).

That said, wouldn't it be nifty if the response had been...

We're always glad to hear of an employee's involvement in other Good Things. Way to go. No worries, your intellectual property is yours. We won't even worry about your use of company equipment as long as you get your work done to everyone's satisfaction. Good luck with it and let us know if we can help.

I would have said "Peachy! I'm going to say 'Thanks to Day Job' in the documentation, just because you're being good about this..."

But we all miss opportunities to do Good Things every day, so... Guess I can't complain too much. Oh well.

At least I have no need to worry about my employer swiping my free code just because they can.

Till next time...

10 Apr 2002 (updated 10 Apr 2002 at 21:46 UTC) »
http://govia.paperlove.org should work soon.

Spent some time just reading this and that here last night. Some interesting stuff to be found, though finding it can be a bit of a trick.

I'm going to bring some ideas with me next time I come. All I have is a cup of not-even-warm coffee right now.

[ l a t e r ]

Whadya know... click home... click next diary entry listed below my new one... And there I am reading from the diary of slok...

Interesting, that, as the most recent entry concerned REBOL (stumbled across that previously through some Amiga-related site/forum/somethingn with a link to an OSNews article(?)). I downloaded some sort of demo of it at the time, but didn't get much out of it. Besides, if it's not free, I can't afford it. We have folks standing in line for our income before it even gets to us...

Interesting also that slok lists a CRM project, as CRM has been occupying a bit of my mindspace lately. I would ramble on about that at great length, but I need to actually work on it instead for the moment.

Suffice to say it's an interesting new buzzword. Everyone and their dog wants to create the ultimate CRM solution (softwarily speaking), although the greatest factor in CRM (as pointed out by more than one person in articles scattered around) is people.

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