Older blog entries for mattr (starting at number 19)

24 Jun 2002 (updated 24 Jun 2002 at 01:20 UTC) »

It seems I've acquired yet another Mac, another beige G3. I had it here to try to 'help' it for a friend, but it has something interesting going on and will not boot after installing MacOS 9.2. Just won't do it. Not from the 9.2 CD-ROM, the 8.5 CD-ROM, a slimmed down 9.2-on-a-ZIP... Hangs and hangs and hangs some more, with or without extensions, and I can't even get to OF...

The owner said he'll just wait for his financial aid check in the fall and upgrade to a newer system (I intend to persuade him that his new system should be a GNU/Linux system, and am well on my way, I think), and said he has no use for this G3 since he doesn't want to put any money into it.

I never give up hope, of course... Maybe now it will feel the love of my LAN and consent to boot somehow... At which time it will get some repartitioning and some NetBSD. We'll see.

I've noticed several folks keeping track of who they certify and why. Sounds like a good idea, something that would be good as part of Advogato... ie certification includes "Why?" and insert that info with the list of who I've certified...

Would be beneficial to the metric, I think. As an unknown nobody and not-knowing anything, I'd check out the Recent Log and certify folks (and I have no idea why...will try to remember...), paying extra attention to fellow nobodies...But already since then my perspectives have been shifting...

And those looking at me might think, oh this guy's just certifying people to try to get certified himself and writing silly diary entries to waste bits... And I can't prove otherwise. Whatever's been distilled enough in my head to make it to my diary here is in no way indicative of my thoughts on open source software advocacy...Just informal rambling when I get a moment. But if my reasoning behind certification of so-and-so is exposed, perhaps others will get a better idea of my thinking.

Giving up hope in the trust metric doesn't seem like the best idea; we're learning as we go, no? Why not keep exploring? If some folks are stuck as Observers (I was for a while too), can you tell why? Is it because half of those here are more worried about what everyone else is writing here instead of what everyone else is actually doing?

Day job or
Adventures in Sneaky Open Source Advocacy

But only because I have no choice but to be sneaky.

I think the web-based weekly report project is nearing completion. So, of course, that means it's time for me to write a requirements document for it. Interesting, eh? Maybe I'm also sneaking in the 'bad' parts of open source software, projects begun with minimal direction, just a thought, an idea... But hey it works, to a point.

There was a need and an idea. We were given the go-ahead to see what we could do, without using any company resources. I started with what I knew, still learning daily as I went along. A couple of sitdowns, looking at the project with my boss, has refined the idea. Now that we think we have it, we'll "make it official," so to speak, with some documentation.

He gave me an example to go by, so I'll have to take another few glances at that. I hope to be able to emphasize the strengths of the open source stuff used in the solution, but I imagine a lot of it won't be within the scope of a requirements document. There is at least the one: "...without using any company resources." I assume that meant not to place additional demands on our web team, which we have avoided. My salary the past little while has paid for its development, but our department is well-staffed and the payoff will be significant, I think.

Where once several someones were kept busy cutting and pasting Word documents that had been emailed to them (looking back at my old ones, probably 40k average size) those same someones will now click a button. The database right now isn't even 25k (granted, only a handful of people have been using it, more or less as beta testers).

In addition, these serve to inform supervisors of problems employees might be having. We decided to go with an email notification system rather than including that in the report, so our solution facilitates rapid response to any issue an employee may have.

So now to document it. Well, not now, but you know.

Another mini-project to follow will involve keeping us under a maximum number of users at a particular web-based resource we're using in technical support.

In other semi-related news, another department (just barely another department, but it is) is also making use of open source software at the Day Job, putting together some web-based training material. The other Linux freak is over there with his Mandrake laptop, doing graphics with the GIMP, and writing the HTML in something other than vi(m), which he really oughta work on... -grin- A potential convert still harbors a desire to use ASP and a Windows server. Not sure how they'll handle that, what 'resources' are available. I told him the other day that PHP had passed ASP in the number of servers running it...

That's enough for now.

Day job

A bummer today... We do not support using our software with Linux servers, but we have a handful of folks doing it anyway. I've been pushing for us to change our stance on that support and have been in touch, informally, with some of those users. Seemed like a good idea to work up a brief survey, just to see what they were thinking... Whether they'll stick with Linux, what kind of problems they had, what type of configuration they're running with, etc...

The issue even came up yesterday in a meeting of bigger- wigs; specifically, there was some concern that we'll have users picking up the nice 'n cheap Wal-Mart Lindows machines and trying to use them with our software.

I finished a draft of the survey yesterday and had sent it on to my supervisor, who previously said it was a good idea. Unfortunately, when he took it another step up, it was completely shot down. Survey cannot leave the building.

I don't get it. Apparently our plan is to ignore anything new which is not MS-inspired. In the process, I feel like we make ourselves look silly when among the handful, we have users running other applications (Office, for instance) from Linux servers with no problems, but we won't even officially investigate the feasibility of running our software with such a setup. I've done it unofficially with no real problems, but that does not a changed support stance make.

paperlove.org & whonose

I created a couple of mailing lists yesterday at paperlove.org, one to discuss non-profit planning things, one for WhoNose development stuff... Don't expect either to be very active, but I'm hoping I might get a little input here and there. See this page for more on the lists, if you want.

tractor at Ozone Farm has been a big 'encourager,' so I thank him for that... I stumbled upon some really cool people when I was wondering where I could get my feet wet with Open Source Etc. :)

Other Stuff?

My Win2k box at work had to go down yesterday... A day of much virus scanning all over the building. The record will stand for now at 87 days, 20 hours+.

Fortunately, I had another machine I could continue to work on yesterday... Much productivity lost yesterday elsewhere, I'm sure...

Much has happened of late...

I really need to spend some time on my web site...or on the WhoNose scripts, really. But recent efforts have been directed towards GOVIA... We're approaching all-around functionality now, rather than just having a very crude search engine to see a dozen contributions.

The original XML format has changed a good bit; I'm not even sure the original crude search engine works as it should at this point. I'll have to re-fix it when we get other things more finalized.

Currently, we're focused (or are about to be focused...) on participant registration and getting the queue to work as it should.

Day Job
Difficult to get things approved by the right people and finalized... but the day job hacking project will probably be ready for use next week. Too much other internal training and meeting going on this week, plus I have a few things to change based on some up-the-ladder wishes.

Will be good when we start using it though... Rather than having over a hundred Word documents being emailed all over creation to wind up in front of one poor guy who has to cut and paste into another document to save as HTML, everyone will just go to a happy URL. Supervisors will have to approve the reports with the click of a button, and everything will be dumped automatically into HTML.

May be the first success for open source in my company, thanks to my "sneakiness..." :)

While I'm thinking of it... My Win2k box at work has been up over 80 days. I'm pushing it for a record and surprisingly enough, it's not letting me down! Of course why shouldn't it be able to handle browser windows, Outlook, PuTTY windows and playing some mp3's? That's about all the box does...

What's nutty to me looking at what I've just typed here, and considering what I've been up to recently, it's hard to believe it hasn't even been a full year yet since my first install of Linux...

As far as personal life goes, the recent dog-related bad/sad news was perhaps just a harbinger, as early last week my marriage came crashing down around my head. Crazy world.

well all of our friends baby / they're going insane now
Butthole Surfers

Testing now with the weekly report interface I did at the day job. So far, so good. No major problems.

Been working on GOVIA a lot... IRC discussion mostly, few more scripts to throw in the toolbox. Getting nearer to a certifiable something though.

I'd like to rant about intellectual property at the moment, but no time. Shucks. See my idea of a license, if you want.

Though it's one of those kindergarten lessons, I often wonder just how many of us made it past the 'me/mine' stage of development... You know, where kid sees something, picks it up, says 'Mine,' cries when you suggest otherwise... Fewer tears, less snot dripping from the noses of the mega- corporations and others, that's all.

Days continued to suck, until they stopped sucking quite so much.

I could go on about more doggie sadness, but suffice to sadly say we lost our two 'babies' within a week of each other. Loki's been gone over a week now - not much hope she'll show up after this long... Then Gunner got into some kind of trouble and died suddenly on Sunday. Molly also got shot in the butt Sunday, but she's fine.

We'd had Loki and Gunner longer than any of the critters... I got Loki while I was still in school and Tiff adopted Gunner right after she graduated... So it was and is tough.

We went to animal control Monday and adopted 'replacements.' They'll never replace Loki and Gunny of course, but at least we still have the right number of feet pitter-pattering. The new kids are much like the ones we lost...another bird dog for Tiff and another beagle for me...

Anyway, enough of that...

miod... Not sure which diary entry was the 'clever' one you mention...but thanks! Never hurts to have someone somewhere think you're smart/clever, at least for a moment... ;)

I'm really just rambling here anyway. By the time I'm looking at a diary entry area, all the wondrous things I come up with when reading other diaries/articles have become crap and it's all I can do to babble.

Hm. Not even babble-ready at the moment. Shucks. Later then.

Days suck lately.

Loki has been missing for two days now. :(

Yesterday, the NetBSD machine I've been using to develop the web-based weekly report thing at work re-developed some disk errors it was getting about a month ago. I didn't lose any work due to the errors, but lost a day setting up another machine.

That machine turned out to be an iPaq ... which would boot just fine from my NetBSD boot floppies, but when the installation menu appears, the keyboard does nothing. Boot messages seem to indicate it saw the USB keyboard and all...just doesn't work at all.

Sadly, I had to install Red Hat 7.1 from some old CDs I had laying around. I say sadly because I really don't care for Red Hat much these days. It's still what I'm running at home just because I don't have the time to deal with setting something else up there right now, but I'm really becoming a BSD fan. RPMs (and their stinkin' dependencies) seem stupid once you've used ports/pkgsrc.

And then last night I broke my glasses at the left temple piece. A bit of tape for now there.

Feel like going to bed for a few days.

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.

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