Older blog entries for mattr (starting at number 8)

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.

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."

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.

8 Apr 2002 (updated 8 Apr 2002 at 20:27 UTC) »

News, of a sort... I'm officially a developer and maintainer of GOVIA. A small thing, perhaps, but makes my day. :)

Shortly, I'll get together some stuff and put a page there dealing with some development-type stuff.

Long life for my hastily created 'Under Construction' Lessonforge logo. It's gone. But check out this, an early mock-up.

8 Apr 2002 (updated 8 Apr 2002 at 20:26 UTC) »

Been fooling around today with GOVIA and between loads of laundry, worked up a baby search engine for the GOVIA documents. At the same time, wrote another PHP script to update the master list and get any new document datasheets.

Pretty interesting project, although some image, video, and audio contributions would make it more interesting. :)

Also made a little logo for Lessonforge.com so it looks spiffier than an ascii 'Under construction' message. ;) Sent it to Matt, and I think it was there later.

Until next time...

If anyone wondered, it's a bit overwhelming to jump into the open source world. Just as freedom means responsibility in RL, freedom in software means responsibility. I owe several people money for shareware software I've used since the 80s - that's me being irresponsible. Now, attempting to get a foot in the open (source) door, I find myself swimming in the chaos of finding something for which I can be responsible, both in terms of qualifications and time.

Might wind up just being a cheerleader for open source, but for now I'll keep the mental note to find the newbie's guide to getting involved in open source... At any rate, I know I have something to offer somewhere. Just gotta find it.

Just to make this an extra special woopydoodah first diary entry, let me mention WhoNose, paperlove.org's rear-end.

It began simply as a "Hey, neat" response to a link a friend sent me about PHP and MySQL. What I had/have in mind continues to evolve, but currently it functions somewhat like a webhost-in-a-site. Registered users can create pages with basic HTML in a variety of flavors. When visiting, pages are selected at 'random.' Anyone can react to any page, registered or not.

There is also a group area. Registered users can create special interest groups, with pages of their own, private or public, with the option to invite other users to join. Public groups are, well, public.

In addition, registered users can upload files to include in their pages.

So what?

Well, it's a little different from your standard-issue content management system. As I see it, they aim at doing a whole lot (and succeed!). Yet one's contributed content may or may not get any attention - it's surrounded by other content, boxes of this, lists of that, other contributed content that may or may not be rated or moderated fairly.

The whopping big difference is that contributed content in WhoNose has a shot at getting center stage every time someone comes along. No one much comes along at this point, but that may change someday.

I can't decide whether it's worth being a project at sourceforge or savannah or not. Who cares about WhoNose? But then again, who knows...

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