Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tis the season...

For long lines at any department store, short tempers, great food and relatives that remind us why we only ever see each other once a year. :)

This is also the season for ridiculous sales on the things we "want" rather than need, food that we should avoid that gets eaten anyway, and the search for that perfect gift for the person or people you cherish most. In short, this season is a mix of the most vivid emotions ranging from Love to hate and all possible variance in between, and all of it gets packed into a few weeks of the year.

In speaking with a dear friend the other day, who just so happens to be a psychiatrist (and no, I wasn't paying him for his time :) ), we fell into a conversation about the season and how it affects us, and can affect the outlook and our inter-familial conversations for years to come. I consider him a wise man, but we disagree often on some things. In this case, we disagreed that it was a healthy overall experience for a person to 'put up with' certain behaviors from family members during this time of celebration and reflection. His perspective is that it helps the individual grow mentally, while I believe it teaches a dangerous method of allowing bad behavior to continue to exist in otherwise sane (loosely translated) family members.

As is our custom around this time of year, we argued (more of a friendly debate) about the differences in our experience and, therefore, our perception of how these events affect an individual. As a child, there was nothing I loved more in my life than going to visit my grandparents on their farm in Alabama for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The trips were the highlight of my year. As a result, I argue that my foundation in solid family environments has allowed me to see both proper and improper interaction between members of the family, and I vividly remember my grandmother and her correction of bad behavior during this time.

My friend's family had much the same, but with a slightly different result. There were members of his extended family that regularly engaged in disruptive and disrespectful behavior during the gatherings, and their contribution went uncorrected. He was confident that seeing this behavior allowed him to see what not to do around family and, while I agree on principle, I think it was his upbringing around individuals that acted properly that allowed him to know the difference. :)

The moral of this story, if there is one, is that you can disagree on behavior, belief, style of dress... but enacted bad behavior that goes uncorrected only allows that person to believe that the behavior is accepted by those around them. On this we both agree.

So, when I am out during this season of mostly selfless giving and I see someone behaving badly within my realm of influence, I make it a point to correct them as gently as possible. After all, I am no expert in relations. I simply know what I am willing to allow myself to encounter as well as in what way I personally expect to be treated. There is a threshold for the way I allow myself to be addressed, treated or respected below which I allow none to pass without some form of intervention on my part. In the past, some people saw this to be some sort of unnatural requirement on my part. I see it as not allowing yourself to receive less respect than you deserve. I wish for the same for all of you.

With that, we come to my real reason for this post. :)

Jono Bacon has created something that I think is long overdue:

It is a site that should help us understand that respect is not just something you give another, it is something you can earn and set for yourself. Now Jono's site is meant and geared more for software development, but I think this should be the model for mortals the world over regardless of your particular job, race, belief structure or affiliation. It is a great thing to see the self worth of an individual increase when they are shown proper respect. It is something I think has been sorely lacking in this world for too long.

Have a look there, take for yourself those ideals and set your threshold for what you are willing to accept. Be true to yourselves. Let none take advantage of your self worth. Love your family, but let them know that there are limits to what you will allow. In this, each of us has an opportunity to grow. Be as respectful to others as you want them to respect you. To each of you, my friends, I offer a hug. To those who don't hug, a hearty handshake is my gift, and to those who don't like to shake hands, have some pie! :-)

Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advice, and the people who give/take it.

I realized today that, while I was giving advice to a friend, the advice I was giving was something that I myself needed to heed. Thinking back on all of the times I have provided my opinion or some piece of, hopefully useful, advice; I realized that, in many of those occasions, the advice I gave wasn't something that I adhered to in my own life. In those cases where I did abide my own, in almost all of those case I was now not keeping to that standard. It actually made me quite sad.

They say the hardest lessons are the ones you visit on yourself. Well, this was a tough pill to swallow for me. I like to think I have given good advice, but given my past history of not following through on it myself, I begin to wonder. A big moment for me was while listening to the clip from Cool Hand Luke that I am using in a jingle for the podcast that Amber Graner and I are discussing the resurrection of. "What we've got here is... failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach." Clearly, in this case, I was the person who couldn't be reached even though the teacher was the same person.

It brought into sharp relief those times that people tell us they understand something and then continue life in the same manner as before. Understanding does not indicate acceptance of a set of circumstances, nor does it indicate a willingness to work toward whatever goal is a result of the idea or advice. It seems I will have to pay closer attention to myself before I am comfortable giving advice to anyone else. How can I consider it sound if I am not willing to take it?


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Box... I haz it!!

Folks who know me are quite aware that I am an odd thinker. It should, then, come as no surprise to you that I like thinking 'outside the box'. I've never liked boxes. I remember making a maze in my middle school lunchroom for Halloween lamenting the fact that I didn't have sturdier construction material to make the maze the way I wanted to. I didn't like them then, I don't like them now. Even as a child I despised the boxes that things I bought came in. Now as an adult, I feel like the boxes are wasteful and take up too much space.

I am a believer in not only thinking outside the box but in destroying the box and using its pieces to build a better box to think outside of. My thinking is akin to sitting on a porch in the south on a summer day smoking a cigar. Surprisingly enjoyable in and of itself, but also able to be improved by the qualities of the porch I am sitting on. If it has a roof, I am shielded from the sun. By the same token, if it is enclosed with screen, I don't have to worry about bugs.

If I own this porch I can do anything I want with it to include completely enclosing it and using it in the winter. The details aren't important. What is important is that it becomes more esthetically pleasing the more work I put into it and more people are likely going to be interested in visiting and sitting on my porch.

I think the same is true of thought processes. A person who has a proven ability to create unexpected ideas from a bit of conversation will have more people interested in discussing their ideas with them. This person, for lack of a better term, is constantly refining their box. After all, who doesn't want to go outside their home every now and again and see what needs sprucing up or changing. If you can interest people in your box, you can show them the beauty that lies outside of your box. This is what makes disruptive technology so interesting to us. We see proven leaders in their fields and we then see them creating such unique and new ideas that we want to work with them. We want to be a part of and learn how to improve out thinking in such a way as to develop ourselves more fully into free thinkers. It is definitely one of the main reasons I wanted to work at Canonical. Nothing could be more beautiful than learning and growing every day. This is my wish for all of you in the next years. Continue to grow your minds. Don't let your box fall apart without first having a plan to rebuild bigger and better. Above all, get out there in the sunshine and create!



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fish, Barrel... Loud Bangs...

I had an odd experience yesterday. It is one that I have ever only just read about or saw in movies.

I was a target for Social Engineering. Yes, I feel dirty too. Fortunately my suspicious nature precluded me from following through, but I was alarmed at how easy and natural it would have been for me to provide the information that was requested.

The setup was simple, I received a call from an unknown number (this was the first clue that something wasn't right). The person on the line stated that she was 'Carolyn' from payroll (this was the second indication for me) and that there had been a 'glitch'. First off, I know of no one at my company named Carolyn. Add to that the fact that I am not the manager of our team. I'm not even the next lower rung. She followed up by saying that she was trying to get a hold of several people in dealing with the glitch. She named 2 people that she was interested in getting phone information for. Normally this request wouldn't raise too many eyebrows, however, my company maintains an internal directory for just such a thing. Now that my spider sense is riding the bellrope of WTF?! into a 9 star fire alarm of frenzy, I had a moment of clarity. I realized just how dangerous this scenario is. My natural predilection is to help in any way I can. After all, it is what I do on a daily basis. For someone unfamiliar with their company's personnel, it would be so simple to provide this information and think nothing more of it, but this simple request can do so much more. A telephone number can tell the requester where in the country the person lives. It also used to have the added benefit of narrowing to a specific region in that zone further reducing the possibilities of finding a location of that particular person. Sounds like a relatively harmless thing right? Well sure until you start looking at the huge list of missing persons all over the country.

In this case, I am pretty certain that the fisherman was a recruiter so the information could have been used for something relatively harmless. The fact is, there is no way of knowing. Sadly, I was so floored by my thought process at the time that I didn't do anything more than try to sound like a person who knew nothing and didn't have the information at hand, but I would have preferred to spar a bit, if you will, with the person on the line. I think it would have been entirely possible to blow over the house of cards they had built with their opening statements.

My final thoughts on the subject are these: Isn't it illegal to do something like this? If so, what are the ways I can combat this type of information gathering? And finally, If I find out who the person or persons are doing this, where do I go with this information? I don't have the answers, but I do have a question for you. Do you think you would be able to cut through the BS and determine that you were being scammed?

Stay vigilant with your information!
Knowledge is power.


Friday, November 19, 2010

My stream of consciousness born of a lack of sleep ☺

{This probably won’t be as short as my normal posts, so those of you who actually do read this (all 8 of you ;-)) may want to take a moment to get comfortable.}

My Job

I love what I do. I love the people I work with. Our times go from easy street and partying at UDS wrap parties to fist and jaw clenching emergencies in the blink of an eye immediately before we release. Never have I worked with a smarter and more capable group of individuals than this one. I am part of one of the most intelligent teams I’ve ever worked or dealt with, and I am thankful for them every day. They give me something to work toward; something most of you know I haven’t had in quite some time. ☺

Our Project

In my opinion, Ubuntu stands to be one of the wonders of the world. I’m not saying that as an employee of canonical. It is the result of having worked with one of the most widely used and developed OS on the market today. Without the vast community we have, none of our goals would be met, none of our validation would occur and none of our growth would have happened. This project has the potential to be (and already is in my opinion) the standard for crowd-sourced projects for the ages. I am thankful for the absolute army of individuals we have thinking, breathing and living the open source and free software philosophy. Without their differences of opinion and ability to clearly state their individual and group opinions there would not be a third of the coverage this OS has in users and developers. You should all be proud.

My Life

I have a great job that requires me to travel on occasion, a nice car, ☺ a great place to live and a lot of new friends that I have met along the way. These are the things that make a success of one’s life. The reality is, it isn’t who you know or the things you have that make one feel complete. It is the memories and experiences that one has that make for a complete life. After all, “You can’t take it with you.” As with all things, there is also the bad. I have many times where I can’t sleep. Many of you are aware that I write on occasion, but I am by no means an author. Authors are published, and I have made it a point not to attempt to publish anything yet. The reasons for this are many, but the main one is that these are stories that I want to write for the sheer joy of the experience right now. I love that the plot doesn’t always develop the way I see it in my head. I love that the characters take on their own personalities and force me into writing them a certain way. The bit that I don’t love about it is the amount of sleep that I lose when great encounters or lines of dialog refuse to allow me to rest. ☺ I estimate that I have lost about 100 pages of really good material because I refused to get out of the bed and fire up the computer.

Add to that my love of music and my newfound desire to write some original electronic and mashup pieces and you have a recipe that won’t see me sleeping until I die. ☺ This is good though. It is a different thing for me to be interested in something that could keep me up at night by a desire to continue working on it. The friends I have had throughout my life would probably all agree that I love my sleep. They would be correct. Sadly, these things seem to have taken precedence over my beloved slumber. I’m happy in some ways that this has happened. After my divorce I went through 5 years of listlessness. I didn’t care what I did or where I did it. I joined the Army again. I moved all over the southeast US. I didn’t keep track of my finances and was overdrawn on many occasions. I simply didn’t care. To have some of that back in my life is a good thing I think.

During that time, I worked across the spectrum of jobs, from carpentry, to Systems and Network Administration to HVAC to Electrical to Plumbing at the Physical Plant of Anderson College to Campus Safety officer to Team Lead of a global enterprise support organization at HP to the Bug master for the Kernel Team of the Ubuntu project. All of that was in the 5 years I spent carelessly trying to find my place again in society. I haven’t found it, but I do care to look some more. ☺ I wonder where that will see me.

My friends

I have the most awesome collection of friends and acquaintances in the world. I mean that, they are, literally, all over the world. Some friends of note who have helped me move upward out of the sludge of lifelessness over the past several years:
Amber and Pete Graner and kids: I became an honorary uncle and I think that helped kick start the process quite a bit. ☺ Their house recently burned down proving yet again that bad things happen to good people. If you weren’t aware and you want to help them out, have a look here: There are still 7 more days that you can contribute. ☺ I love you guys. I’m just sayin’.

Carlota Sage: She is the penultimate pinup and she has a wicked and dirty sense of humor. It was in large part her refusal to put up with noncommittal crap from me that kick started my funny bone back up. I’m sure she isn’t aware, but I have so much more funny now and yet, not as much as I used to have. Still working on that though. ☺ Love ya Carlota.

There are so many others that gave a part of their lives to me by either allowing me into their homes to corrupt their brains/children/pets/parents. Too many to name, but I am thankful for you all, even though at least 3 sets of you had kids after I moved away… You guys need hobbies :-P
So many of you gave your philosophy, long-held beliefs or just a comfortable place to chat that I can’t imagine where my mind would be now without you. To you, the intelligential individuals, I am eternally grateful.

So I suppose you gathered that this post is geared more toward things I am thankful for. I thought that was appropriate, given this time of the year. You know, the time of year when I refuse to listen to normal radio due to their penchant for playing certain seasonal songs a month before they should be played. ☺

So there you go. These are the thoughts that are banging around in my head as I try to get to sleep tonight. :-/ Hopefully getting them out of my head will help me actually rest… but I doubt it. :-D

Now aren’t you glad you read all of that? ☺

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TMA! Too Many Acronyms!

I realize it has been a while since my last blog post... apologies. Today's topic is drawn from the frustration of reading a technical document that shall remain nameless, but nonetheless contained an acronym used twice for different things!

This nonsense must end. I was a member of the US Army and I saw the idiocy of most of the acronyms used there. The difference is, they were consistent! There was no using the same acronym for two different things that I recall, but even there the usage is deplorable.

Let the record show that I despise the use of acronyms in everyday speech and writing. I understand, but still dislike, their usage in documentation where writing out the words is tedious and unnecessary. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury... I will henceforth stop using acronyms in my daily usage. I think it better that I can spell and write out the words necessary to complete a useful conversation rather than to abbreviate my co-conversator into oblivion. The only possible exclusion I can see is in my IRC chatting. After all, it is difficult to let someone you are speaking with know that you are laughing without using 'lol' (which I also despise but can find the usefulness of)

In short, I am an angry hypocrite. :-)

That is all!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Things just keep getting better

So I decided earlier today to try a processor intensive action on my desktop and see how it fares. I have several long .ogg files (mixtapes created by a friend) that I want to play on my MP3 player. Sadly, my player doesn't support OGG Vorbis, so I have a need to convert them. Enter SoundConverter, a tool specifically designed to do such a thing.

Now, for a bit of description on my Desktop... It is a custom build. It has an Intel Motherboard, 8 core processor and 6 Gb of RAM. It also has 8Tb of attached storage and 60Gb(2x30 SSD drives) for OS and related programs. Needless to say, it is a beast.

I've never really tested it out. I realized the other day that I never really even needed to enter and change any of the BIOS settings(I looked through them, they were all set correctly from the factory). The Ubuntu Kernel Team and a great many of the other teams within the Ubuntu Project have wanted load testing that is effective for quite some time. It is a proposition that I have been investigating since I joined Canonical. It is also needless to say, it is a massive endeavor. How does one accomplish effective load testing on an OS and provide concrete data and results that indicate where possible problems may lie? I am still working on all of that. Now back to our situation at hand.

This machine is set up with a 1300Mb swap partition that it has never used. I set out, using the .ogg files to see what kind of pressure could be put on the machine before I see a stutter in my music that is also playing while the test is underway. (That being a major gripe of mine and many users as well)

I added 8 of the OGG files to the sound converter to be converted all at once. My load average at the time was around 1.8. I had Terminal open running htop, Chromium open with about 10 tabs of pages and my Rhythmbox app playing some DJ Chuckie. :)

All 8 cores went to 90+ percent when I started the conversion and moved between 85 and 95% all during the process, which lasted about 5 minutes. No swap usage and absolutely no skipping of the songs I was playing even when I moved to the Rhythmbox app and changed songs in the middle of the test. I also didn't notice any lag in window selection or loading like I used to on my older hardware. I'm very happy with that. :-)

This testing was conducted on the Ubuntu Maverick RC 64 bit. Great Job Ubuntu Project members!! :-D

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ubuntu Kernel Team Triage Summit

Since I've already blogged about it here I'll refrain from boring you with the detail there already.

What I will say is that I am very excited about this Summit. It is the first of its kind and I am really hoping that I haven't stunted it due to my failure to evangelize it enough before now. There simply hasn't been the time. Couple that with e-mail issues of my own creation and you have a recipe for failure.

I hope at least a few people hear about it and join in the fun. This should be an opportunity for folks who have very little exposure to the linux kernel and a desire to become more acquainted with the inner workings of linux to get some of the basic information they need in order to get much closer and provide some assistance to the team as we push to get eyes on the thousands of bugs we deal with daily.

I can't wait for Saturday Sept 11th. :)


Monday, August 30, 2010


I can never seem to get any of the things I really need to do finished on a Monday. I'm always overcome by other last minute critical issues either of my own making or some other equally critical venue. More often the latter, but it seems that, lately, I have been causing myself a lot of pain by putting some things off that I don't want to do. Not that I won't do them, it is just that they are usually not fun to accomplish.
I've discovered today that they are even less fun when you put them off (as per what I usually discover in every other set of circumstances like these that I continually get myself into :)) One would think I would learn. One would wonder why it is that I keep doing this to myself.

One doesn't have an answer for that. :-)

Anyone else do anything like this, or are you all better at accomplishing the 'un-fun' better than I am?


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Previous post title got me thinking...

Being a teleworker or a telecommuter is a great thing. I can show up for work in my PJs or I can sit on the porch, in the hammock... There are a number of benefits to working from home, but there are also many drawbacks. Many of them a product of not setting rules to work by.

Many people try to keep our attention on burnout, or to use a friend's label "Volunteer Vertigo", but most of the time a simple set of rules would keep us from being affected. I'd like to share some that I use, and I am interested in what you have to add.

1) Set up a 'workspace'.
For me, this is as simple as the table I use for my laptop in my office.

2) Make the rule that nothing other than work will go on in this 'workspace'
Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn't. Something as simple as reading your snail mail in your 'workspace' can undermine the rule. This is a difficult one for me to follow through on. I've begun going so far as to get up from the workspace and walking away when the phone rings. It gives me the chance to keep my mind focused.

3)Ensure that you set work hours.
Most important rule, and most likely to be seen as flexible. In IT it is easy for us to get blinders when we are working on something we enjoy. We lose track of time. This has the side-effect of causing us to begin to dislike what we once loved. I consider this rule one of the most important, if not THE most important.

There are many other little rules that I have, but I think I will stop there for now. I may continue in a later post and cover things like "recreational surfing must be done somewhere other than your chosen workspace." Also very important, however, I think the ones above are the keystones. If you can achieve those, then the rest are up to you.

Let me know what you do to keep from working all hours. :-)


Monday, August 9, 2010

All Work and no Play...

So it has been some time since I had the chance to blog here at all. Not that any of you were waiting with bated breath for some new drops of idiocy from me, just that I wanted to use this to capture my thoughts... mostly for myself.

In the intervening time, I went to Prague for the Platform Rally, was asked to attend and present for the Ubuntu Hardware summit, started doing several songs that I have collectively dubbed 'situational blues', been approached by a friend to do a general topics podcast (details to be posted soon), all while lying amongst tons of bugs and e-mail.

It is true that there are thousands of kernel bugs. At times they get overwhelming, but we are working on policies around all of them that i hope will guide reporters to filing the best bug reports that they possibly can. I'm also excited to have several new folks triaging bugs for us. With any luck the Kernel Triage Summit currently planned for September 11th will be most beneficial. (Why Sept 11th you ask? Unfortunately it is the only weekend I have somewhat free before the end of this cycle. I've squeezed it down to 4 hours on the day so that the most people can benefit. Plus it will be recorded and posted for others to review after. But more on that later)

I hope that Amber and I are able to get some fun topics for the new podcast together. We will be talking about lots of things, not just Ubuntu (and we may not even talk about that :)). The main goal of this podcast is for us to take time out and laugh... at each other if necessary. :-)

So, in review, tons of cool stuff happening. Lots and lots of work to do. Oh, and for those of you not aware, UDS will be in Orlando, Florida in October. Those of you who've always wanted to attend, now is your chance!! :-D

More to come...


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In the News

As I lay here. Recovering from UbuFlu in the midst of my UDS Hangover, I ran across a news story about Fedora 13 being pushed back due to a Grub bug. The story i saw is:

Some folks have asked me today if I thought this was a failure on the part of Fedora. Of course not. We all want to put out good software, and Fedora is no different. Understanding that this wasn't the only bug that caused them to hold off releasing, I applaud them for explaining the situation a bit and working to put out the best software possible.

Just my thought today.

Being sick really sucks,


Monday, May 17, 2010

New Words to use

OK, this made me laugh for a while today.

UDS Hangover

Boy, they weren't kidding. There really is such a thing as a 'UDS Hangover'. I calculate that, from the time I hit the bed Saturday night at 11:30PM until I woke up this morning, I have slept over 24 hours and I still feel as if I have been beaten repeatedly.

The flight back was uninteresting from a volcanic point of view. No Delay, No changed course. Just a long flight and the usual dehydration to deal with. One would think they would consider putting in a humidification system for planes to keep you from feeling as if you'd had sandpaper installed in your nostrils while you weren't looking.

Both flights were staffed by excellent attendants and I continue to have my research reinforced as to dealing with them and ticketing/gate agents. Ever since I began this job and travelling so much, I've taken the approach of always smiling and being cheerful when interacting with them. I've never had a problem. This includes dealings with TSA agents at security checks. I generally find that I have less of a difficult time as long as I am seemingly happy. And just to neutralize the obvious thought that I am always happy or that I never have troublesome items and/or times. I can assure you that I don't always feel like putting up this image of complete happiness, and I have had several situations where I had crazy baggage issues.

It all just seems to work out when you do everything you can to make their jobs a bit easier. :-)

In the words of undacuvabrutha "Peace, Love and Soul" and I'll add to that Rock-nRoll. ;-)


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Of AllStars and Southern Rock

The All Stars Jam was a night not to be forgotten. The band was in the groove and the crowd was participating.

I tend to think I was up there way too long, but what can you do when influenced by alcohol and the overpowering draw of classic southern music.

I sincerely hope that there was no one recording the whole proceedings, but I am not naive enough to believe that there wasn't. I do know that after we finished up our planned set list we started taking requests, so apparently the crowd was still with us.

Claire Newman asked us to play Waterloo by Abba, and I am sorry to say we failed her. I am, however, hopeful that we can make it up to her by either learning it or finding someone who knows it for the next Jam. :) After all, I promised.

I thoroughly enjoyed singing with Jono on Tuesday's Gone and Turn The Page. I can't wait until next UDS. :-)

Keep on Rockin in the Free World!


UDS Day 5

Well, we have finally arrived. The last day of UDS. It seems like we have been here a month. The sessions have been so full of technical detail and collaboration that I feel like I will have to sleep a week to recover. Thankfully I don't think I will actually have to.

My cold has plagued me all week, but I have been able to keep it mostly at bay with the judicious application of throat lozenges, plenty of water and sleep. I slept over 16 hours on 2 days of this week and I think that helped immensely.

Today, like the others began with the kernel roundtable then moved to my session concerning the plans that i have for bug handling improvements in Maverick. Needless to say, there are quite a number of things that I and the team hope to accomplish during this cycle. It is an aggressive plan, but I hope it will provide us with a tremendous amount of success. More on that later.

Next was a session on Colin King's plan to conduct automated BIOS testing for troubleshooting failures on suspend/resume. Much of the plan for his work is to help ODM and OEM to find faults in their BIOS logic before chips and configurations are completed and shipped. This will cause us to spend less time quirking for those bugs and more time on kernel stability and improvement. I had originally planned to use a portion of Colin's talk to discuss the planned daily testing ISO that we want to build for use by LoCo teams during Global Jam days to give us early testing and data to fix the most affected bugs prior to release, but this was not to be. :-) Much as I suspected, Colin's talk was well attended and went the whole time plus. no matter, we have plenty to do in this regard, so we will move ahead with those plans and do an After Action Review next cycle.

Next, I was pulled out to prepare the equipment for the All Stars Jam happening Friday night during the wrap up dinner. We set up and practiced a bit before heading to the evenings session on Miscellaneous topics that weren't covered in the previous days. Thankfully, it didn't take the whole of the allotted time and we got a chance to sit and chat for a bit before the wrap up meeting in the auditorium.

What a week! I am glad I was here. I see now more of how a distribution is planned and I understand now that it takes an army of people working together to bring it all together. What a great team I work with. :-)

Time to sleep now.


UDS Day 4

Day 4 began, as usual, with the Kernel Roundtable. Afterward, I attended the combined meeting to discuss the planned kernel version to be used in the Maverick release along with planned kernel versions across several other release topic branches. This was followed up by the Ubuntu Kernel Delta review where Leann worked with the other members of the team to determine what patches were ready to be removed due to upstreamed stable patches or superseded by other patches. After this was a discussion surrounding support for backporting the Maverick kernel to be supported on the server version of the OS. This is a brand new thing that we are trying so that server gets the latest server support in the LTS release. It should be very interesting.

Another nice lunch was had and then plenary sessions with the Debian Project Leader, as session entitled "What's this bit do? Ghosts of plumbing past, present and future" which was quite informative, followed by a group photo.

The evening's session that I was mainly interested in was the Launchpad/Kernel bug improvement session which I had requested earlier in the week to get the team together with launchpad to further define our requests with regard to items we'd like to see in the tool. My thanks go to Jono Lange for his input on this session from a Launchpad point of view and to Matt Zimmerman for helping to identify the needs of the specific requests as we discussed them.

Todo items as a result of the day's sessions:
* Too numerous to mention, but captured in gobby documents :-)

More tomorrow,


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

UDS Day 3

Well, I feel pretty tired today. I am not yet convinced that this is the "UbuFlu" That I have heard about. I suspect it is more like a product of the pace and intensity of the sessions I have been a part of. I'll know more tomorrow. :-)

The Kernel Roundtable was first on the agenda as per normal. We discussed the things we all attended the day before and discussed work items that came about as a result.

The first session I attended today was about making Harvest more useable. This is a really useful tool that I am hoping to add to the items I use on a daily basis. I provided feedback where I could but this was only the second time I had seen it (a situation that was entirely my fault as it was on my TODO list).

Next was a private Kernel meeting to discuss a few topics followed by a very well attended session on multitouch support and its place in the next release. This was a packed house and I got a great deal out of the current support level versus what is expected to be ready for inclusion in Maverick. I hope they moved the follow on session to a bigger room. I was unable to attend the follow on.

Lunch was as normal, great selection with fantastic desserts. :-)

Plenaries covered the forward work planned for ARM followed by a quick look at Lucid workflow success and the Maverick Development plan as it stands now (more on this later). and lastly was a brief chat about translations (what a great group of people!) and an overview of the new font layout from the foundry. Very Exciting.

After Plenaries I was part of a session on Kernel Wiki 'gardening' which I hope will aid our community in finding information more easily as we move forward. Some relevant topics were, how to break out information on a per-release basis so that even as releases occur and information gets updated, our community will have access to relevant legacy information. This will also help us narrow the triage scope for specific subsystems community members are interested in and help us provide a better bug interaction. All big wins for the community as well as the bug reporters. I was also able to chat briefly about an idea that Steve Conklin had concerning the subsystems and triagers that focused specifically on subsystem bugs. The hope is to provide them with specific training from the triaging experts in these systems to allow us to not only grow their understanding of the specific sections of kernel work, but to also allow them to gain a foothold in kernel debug. The consensus was that this was a great idea and that the first iteration should be conducted electronically so that we can see the initial benefits without interrupting schedules of community members. This would also help us to live triage of specific bugs with an expert looking on and coaching. A side-effect that I hope we see is an expansion of the subsystem focused wiki pages that will come about as a result of the learning that occurs. I hope to use this as a model going forward for community based training that will eventually elevate current triagers into subsystem hackers and eventually kernel devs if they are interested. I guess you can sense my excitement. :-) More on this to come.

Next was a block of 2 hours devoted to kernel config which I opted to miss so that I could get a break and hopefully recover some energy for the final sessions of the day. The first was on Patch Review. Here again the Kernel Team is a bit different, but i took the time to try and understand how the other packages use it. The session was very informative. I now know exactly how the kernel patches deviate from this model and I understand more of the why. The last session I attended was apport and its possible use to gather information on installation failures. I always enjoy hearing the thought process that Colin Watson uses when determining what he needs to do to address an issue and this was a perfect opportunity to listen in. I was also mainly interested in what this might mean for kernel installation failures that might occur. i suspect I will be getting pinged by Colin should he encounter any of those in the testing. I look forward to it.

I've foregone dinner in the hope that rest will replenish me a bit more for tomorrow. We are 3 days down and 2 to go. :-)

Take aways from today's sessions:
*Read up on Harvest and pull the branch so that I can provide more feedback from a user perspective.
* Work with Andy to define the first needs of the wiki reorg
* Work the list of 10 for the initial foray into wiki updates
* Get arsenal scripts that pull bugs that have upstream SHA1 commits in them and generate a readable/clickable report for use in verifying that they either need to be or are in the latest kernel.
* develop a plan for the first 'triager summit' and announce intent to team list.
* Put the new Bug call plan in place and plan to start it one week from Monday the 17th of May.
* Work out a better bug report and have it update automatically through the day.
* Identify easily distinguishable bug tags to effectively break out the bugs as to what subsystem is affected (i.e. kernel-sound, kernel-suspend, etc.)
* Work up automated scripts to identify and tag as such above.
* roll triage wiki with links to the bug lists as broken out by the tags above.
* Determine best practice to expire bugs appropriately and work with Brad Figg to implement appropriately. (I have halted running the expire script until we have this down and i have reviewed all currently expired bugs)
* Work with Brad to identify the process arsenal scripts should use and document it.
* Rewrite arsenal scripts as needed due to the above.
* Identify Python training to attend over the cycle.

More tomorrow. :-)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

UDS Day 2

I feel much better today having slept 16 hours straight and only changing position once over the course of that time. :-)

Today started right in with sessions so I attended the Kernel Roundtable where we went over the sessions members attended from the day before. Steve has had an awesome idea to conduct a Kernel Triager summit for those triagers we have who are great at getting specific subsets of bugs to a state for work. I'll be proposing a session on this before the end of the week.

Next I attended the ARM toolchain session which was excellent, but a bit higher than I could reach with my current knowledge of ARM. i suspect this will be of more benefit as time goes on. :)

Next was an excellent session on btrfs, which I am looking forward to, wherein the conversation centered around what needs to be done to add this as an install option during installation of Maverick. The features of btrfs that were discussed make it sound imminently preferable to an EXT fs.

Next was a session about Ubuntu boot performance where there was an in-depth chat about what can be done to improve the boot performance in Maverick. There was some excellent information here on what currently causes delays in boot and what work is in progress to address this going forward. Very interesting stuff... if you are a geek like me.

Lunch was, again, delicious. It was followed by a riveting session on Diffamation which is an animated diff viewer. I think I shall be using it soon.

Next was a session on sounds which highlighted for me the methods used to change and identify sound changes for the next release. It was something that I was not familiar with that really helped me understand the process involved. The team is very focused on making the soundscape unique among the distributions.

I got a great deal out of the Tracking Regressions across Releases session. There are a great many things I need to look into as a result. This session was again hijacked by myself and the special needs nature of the kernel team and it's bugs. Fortunately, I recieved a ton of useful information in the way of apport and scripts that help highlight the relevant information in a bug from Matt Zimmerman. I plan to become fully conversant in apport before the end of the next cycle.

The final session of the day was on Permissive mounts of removable devices. There was a lively discussion surrounding expected behavior versus how it currently works.
Given the level of removable media issues I have seen reported, I felt like this was a great discussion to have.

Things to do as a result of today:

* Setup a Kernel Triage summit session to discuss the possibility of having this type of meeting.
* Meet briefly with JK to work out the HWE process for their bug going forward.
* Attend session with ogasawara, apw et Al to discuss further 'wiki gardening'.
* meet with BDMurray about greasemonkey, arsenal and apport.
* Reenable greasemonkey scripts and install arsenal.
* Read information send by Matt to start the apport learning. :-)

More tomorrow. :-)


UDS Day 1

It was all a bit hazy... :-) but here is the relevant information from my first day at my first UDS.

The hotel is nice (given that it was apparently an IBM campus in the past). I missed the initial Kernel roundtable due to my intense need to conduct some personal hygiene(my plane arrived in Brussels at 8AM and the keynote occurred at 10AM) I arrived just in time to catch the entire keynote, but I opted for a shower, etc. before continuing the day. :-)

The first session I was able to attend was a workgroup on configuration managers and their interaction with conf files as it should stand regardless of what is managing the files. it was a great discussion and it was high enough over my head that I remained interested and was able to assimilate a good bit based on my SA background.

Next was a nice lunch followed by a plenary talk by the design team, a chat on Qt and a brief discussion of maverick and developers. Great sessions but difficult for me to stay awake in due to my 36 hour jaunt of awakeness.

The next session was a meeting to discuss the +patches view in Launchpad and to see what, if any improvements needed to be made. Being the special case that it is, I put the kernel's needs forward to see if there was anything that could be done to help me (purely selfish ;) )

After that was a rousing session on bugs by the same folks as the patches chat. Sadly, I almost hijacked this session with some of the more serious issues that affect kernel bugs in Launchpad. I put forward the thoughts of the team along with issues encountered by the kernel upstream maintainers like Ted T'so. The issues were well received and the subsequent discussion by the Kernel Team led to the need for a separate Kernel/Launchpad session which I will try to organize before the end of the week.

I ended the day in a Kernel Team private meeting.

Key things I need to do now:

* Determine who from LP were in the bugs chat and see if they are open to a kernel bugs session(bryceh, jml, , )
* I missed the UEFI talk that Colin King had, but I'd like to chat with him for a few moments about whether to postponbe my UEFI work on the testing ISOs until later.
* I need to flesh out my idea to the team of focused weeks for specific areas of kernel bugs (sound, graphics, wireless)

More later on Day 2. :-)


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane...

Well, I was, but it seems I am to wait until tomorrow to finish my journey to the land of Trappist Ale and chocolate.

I had a great chicken parmesan at a place called Shoeless Joe's next door to the hotel I am in. There was some great Abita Purple Haze beer too, which I am very fond of.

Hopefully I will make it the rest of the way tomorrow as it seems other travelers have only met with delays so far this evening. I'm also hoping to blog some more during the afternoons at UDS about the sessions I am attending. This will hopefully make up for the lack of blogging here recently.

At any rate, I am tired, so I leave you with Stan Lee's famous closing line.



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Dolphy Day!

Today is Dolphy Day. This is a very special day for me as it means i get to listen to great jazz all day. :-) for those of you who are unaware, Dolphy Day is named for Eric Dolphy, a masterful musician, who like most musicians of high caliber, died at a young age.

I hope you will consider celebrating Dolphy Day next year. :-)

Play on!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Tartan Day!!!

Yes, it is Tartan Week and Today is Scotland's Tartan Day. I am a kilt wearer and I am ashamed to say that I lost track of the days this year (much like last year) and I neglected to wear one of my kilts to celebrate the occasion. I will rectify that soon.

The Tartan Day Parade will be held this saturday the 10th of April in New York City. I wish I could be there, but alas, I shall be in Austin Texas talking Linux with fellow geeks at the Texas Linux Fest in Austin. Additiona;;y, I am still working out the kinks on my "Testing Crack of The Day" LiveCD ISOs that we will be building daily. I'll have blog posts on all of that coming up soon. :)

In other news, I gibbered away almost incomprehensibly for an hour and a half to the Asheville Linux User Group. I have a post on that as well under construction, and I'll be posting it soon. So much happening, so little time to write. I'll catch up soon.

That's all for now.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Created Word for the Day: Domesticulation

Domesticulation: 1) The intense sense of satisfaction by a male of a species when he has successfully done something around the house that pleases the female of the species. 2) A subject of much scorn between males of the species to another of their kind who is affected by this disorder. 3) The supreme source of happiness for a female of the species when the male regularly works to achieve it.

*Created Words of the Day are generated by JFo and are therefore free to use and distribute in daily speaking or writing. JFo in no way condones the use of violence upon males of the species by other males of the species based on their addiction to this particular CWoD. There is no warranty implied or otherwise to the females of the species as to how much Domesticulation is possible in a male of the species. All other rights are expressly reserved. :-P


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Google Summer of Ubuntu... err Code :-)

Well folks, it looks like Ubuntu will once again be participating in the Google Summer of Code. This is a great opportunity for students 18 or older to participate in open source projects with stipends to be awarded by Google.

Details of the Ubuntu project are available on the Ubuntu Wiki here. And an FAQ for the SoC can be found here

I hope you or someone you know can be a part of this. There is no better way to be introduced to the Free and Open Source Software world.

Get Coding!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Anyone who really knows me...

...also knows that I am not the type to let something that is on my mind go without saying. So here we go.

This past Friday I had the misfortune, and good fortune, of experiencing one of open source software's major detractors, in the minds of a large majority of people. I'll explain the good fortune bit in a few moments, but I'd first like to focus on the misfortune. :-)

I updated my Lucid Lynx install on my main laptop Friday evening. I can hear people groaning now, but please bear with me. For those of you who are not aware, Lucid Lynx is the release name for the Ubuntu 10.04 version of the popular operating system. I want to stress that this software has only just reached beta and is, therefore, not recommended for production level use. What that means is, if you don't want your machine to crash and potentially wipe out all of your precious bits and bytes, it is probably a good idea not to use this version.

Since I am a Canonical Employee, I find that I am honor bound (meaning not required by the company, that I am aware of) to use the development version of the software so that I can catch unexpected problems as they arise. Having said that, Friday evening was a bit of a stress for me. :-) My Evolution (mail client) icon disappeared from the Office section of my launcher menu. My chat icon disappeared from my Indicator Applet and every time I selected Home directory from my places menu the archive manager popped up indicating that it couldn't create the specified archive. Sounds like a barrel of monkeys eh?

So like any good software guy... I freaked right out. Yes, I did. After a moment, I caught my breath and I tried looking around on my machine to see what else, if anything, was broken. Nothing, that I could tell. I shut the machine down thinking if the worst were to happen, I could just reinstall later. I put the incident out of my mind.(I have 2 laptops running so I could do that :-P)

Now we get to the good fortune and why I love free software so much. I booted my machine today. I saw several failures, but everything looked as if it had come up smoothly. I decided I would try to update the machine (via the Update Manager) to see if any of the latest updates fixed the issues I had been seeing. Post-update, everything was back where I expect it to be. Those things that were missing are there once again, and when I click to open my home folder, it opens! \o/

Now, in the real world, I realize that any of the issues I saw could have been the result of some failure during the boot or loading process, but some of these issues seemed to be, during my analysis, products of the update I did on Friday. This is just one of the times I have seen this in action, but I know that the Ubuntu team worked to fix the issues I encountered and maybe a host of others that I didn't experience as the result of the Lucid Beta release on Friday. Why do I think this is good fortune you ask? Simply because I have personally encountered such issues in the Windows and Mac world, and I can tell you, never have I seen them react so quickly and resolve issues like these. In those cases I was a paying customer. This is free software, and I couldn't be more proud. This is the team of brilliant professionals that I am allowed to work with daily. It is events like these that affirms the decision I made so long ago to use and promote Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

Thanks to the developers, the testers and indeed to the community members who brought this to their attention for getting this squared away during the weekend!


Friday, March 19, 2010

ahhh Friday, and moving into a new house...

Well, ok, not new, but very nice and new to me. I found the perfect old house for me to live in.

It is close to town (most things are walking distance), yet still retains the relative quiet of the country. I sit about 25 feet from the road, yet I can barely hear the cars passing. Oh, and the ceilings are 11 feet high!

Here's a look at the front hall as you walk in the door.

Yes, the walls are purple. Ironic considering the facts: I don't really care for purple, and Ubuntu has changed the default theme of the desktop to purple... err Aubergine. :-)

Here's a look from the living room to the dining room.

And finally the front room that will most probably end up containing a pool table.

I'm really excited about this house. It is the type of thing I have always seen myself eventually living in. The downside is, now I have to get my tubby self out and care for the yard, but then, I really need to get outside more anyway.

These pictures are from my Facebook album. I'll add more to it as I add my furniture.

Happy Friday!!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Luck O' the Irish

As anyone who has known me for any length of time knows, I love my Mother. I am the epitome of the 'Mama's Boy'. I can distinctly remember dishing out pain to anyone who disrespected her as I was growing up, and I still have a few plans for pain to dish. ;-)

My mother has Irish ancestry. A very large amount from her mother's side, which gives me a certain amount of Irish blood. (This would explain my desire to inflict pain on those as would disrespect me mum :-) ) What some of you may not know is that her birthday is tomorrow, so it is celebrated all over the world. (Which is as it should be, saint that she is) Additionally, her hair, at one time, was bright red. So you can understand why St Paddy's is a special occasion for me. I have celebrated it for as long as I can remember from wherever I happen to be in the world.

So as you go about your day tomorrow, have a drink for my old mum and take part in the global celebration of her birth, and the subsequent entry of my modest self upon the world. ;-)


"May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand."

(Traditional Irish Blessing; origin unknown,
although some attribute it to St. Patrick.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Take a deep breath. Stretch. Kick off your footwear..."

So, the word on the street is, Ubuntu installations currently cover about 10 million machines. That is a LOT of users. I am personally happy that we have such a large user base. In most cases it helps test development versions of the software, as well as giving us a very timely sense of when something inevitably goes wrong. However, there are still edge cases where users, whether by having had bad experiences or simple personality conflicts or even becoming overwhelmed by the release and update schedule of the software, tend to become resistant to answering our questions or remaining willing to test newer versions of the software for us. I can tell you, from experience, that I have those days too. I understand the sentiment. I've only just begun to hash through all of the bugs against the kernel for Ubuntu, and yes, there are quite a number that have not been touched by us in a VERY long time. I understand the frustration that some of you feel as a result of that, but I want to address some of that right now. These bugs, while stale, do NOT indicate a lack of work on the part of either the upstream maintainers nor the Ubuntu Kernel Team itself. It is also not an indication that the Kernel QA folks don't care. I would absolutely love to be able to work all of the kernel bugs and respond to each of them every day.

The truth is, with over 10 million potential users, in addition to around 10,000 open bugs, it is simply not possible for me to provide a 'high touch' level of interaction with all of those cases. This doesn't mean (as mentioned above) that work is not ongoing for those issues that I am not able to get to. The absolutely beautiful thing about Ubuntu, and specifically the Kernel team and upstream kernel maintainers, is that there is a great deal of amazing work going on outside the normal view of the end user. What I mean is, just because one must dig quite a bit in order to know what work is being completed to address a specific issue doesn't mean that there is no work occurring.

There are so many contributers to the main kernel that, for me to enumerate them, would undoubtedly see some number of brilliant people left out. The same is true for the Ubuntu Kernel Team. There are a vast number of people working on and identifying specific defects in the software, that for me to try to define what they do and when would be a serious disservice to them. These people are the cream of the crop, and by 'these people' I include all of the people who work on kernel development and maintenance. That there can be hardware enablement of new platforms and bug fix of old ones without the normal margin of regressions is amazing to me, and is a testament to how smart and thorough these people really are.

So asking for a specific page where a fix has been applied before you are willing to even test on a new version, or railing about your bug having 'only' been pinged by an automated script asking you to verify or collect logging is simply childish and unhelpful in the face of all of the work that goes on behind the scenes. Please consider all of these factors in addition to the Code of Conduct when responding on bugs. Most of the people working to help you get your issue resolved are community members as well.



P.S. Title courtesy of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince 'Time to Chill'

"It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." -- Silvan Engel

Friday, March 12, 2010

Comic fun

ok, this made me laugh.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who am I?

I am the Ubuntu Kernel Team Bug Triager. That basically means, if it is a bug on the kernel as shipped in a supported Ubuntu release, I manage it. This currently to the tune of 10,000+ bugs just on the linux(Ubuntu) package.

I work with the smartest team of people I have ever had the good fortune to come across, and I am thankful every day that they are so much smarter than me because they tend to see my errors before I make them public. ;-) If you have some time and you are interested in the inner workings of the Ubuntu kernel, feel free to come see us on FreeNode in the #ubuntu-kernel channel. There is a place for everyone.

Which brings me to another large part of my job, Ubuntu community involvement. If you are unfamiliar with how the Ubuntu community works, I can tell you that it is like one very big family all working together to make Ubuntu the best that it can possibly be for each release. Check out the pages here for more info. I can sure use the help managing the bug backlog for the kernel, so if you are interested in the kernel or in bug triage itself, chat with me on FreeNode and let me know you want to help.

That is all for now. Carry on.


Hello World!

Well, I suppose it had to happen eventually... not that I have never planned to have a blog, I suppose I just never.... well, I never! ;-)

So here it is. Something you've all been waiting for, (I hope not, if you have then I worry about your hobbies and interests), The Drivel from JFo!

And for those of you who recognized the title and thought it could get no worse, I present: $foo bar.

/me bows