After I cleaned up and ate a light breakfast at the hotel, I strolled back to the university building for the second day of the 2013 DevConf.cz event. In case you didn’t see them, here are my reports on part 1 and part 2 of the first day.
One thing I didn’t point out yesterday: I only saw most of one track. There were actually three complete tracks going on, several workshop rooms, and a couple of hacking labs. This is a really big conference: I hear there are almost 550 people here from around the world! Here’s what I saw and did today:
The conference was really fantastic, with great content and a lot of good hallway conversations. Combining the conference with an office visit made it even higher value, so I hope I can attend next year.
After the conference day ends, I’m meeting up with a group of buddies to find Koishi, a sushi restaurant Will Foster told me about. It’s supposed to be very good, with a real Japanese chef who gets fish flown in from Slovenia. I think tonight will be low key, since we are back at the Red Hat Czech office in the morning!
(UPDATE: Said chef was apparently not working tonight at the restaurant, so we opted for the quite satisfactory Sushi Ya, and had a wonderful time. Vaclav Tunka was a marvelous guide to some great Czech wines and the suhi was quite good. The butter fish was exceptional and they had a markedly excellent spider roll.)
Yup, 0.1.9 has finally made it out the door. Here’s the tarball and the git repo. There are also updated packages coming shortly in Fedora 17, 18, and Rawhide. If you want to help test those to get them out sooner, look here for the package for your Fedora release.
Plus, did you know there’s a Facebook page for PulseCaster? Visit it, like it, and feel the love.
PulseCaster 0.1.9: The gruesome details
I have no witty release name attached to any of the releases, so let’s call this “The One Where We Figured Out How to Give People an Expert Option and Translations, Too.” Some of the secret features you’ll find in this release:
OK, I’m being a bit snarky here. Mainly I’m trying to play all nonchalant about how long it actually took me to get around to working on another release. Here’s a better listing of new stuff in 0.1.9:
Some of the features on the current roadmap:
As always, you can find the PulseCaster site at http://pulsecaster.org — bugs and enhancement requests are welcome. Input from users helped to drive (eventually!) the work for this release, so a tip of the hat to them for participating!
For a while I’ve been using the GNOME Evolution address book with Mutt, my favorite email client. I use a script called mutt-eds-query, which consults the default evolution-data-server (EDS) address book to find contacts whose name or email address match a substring. I have a couple thousand contacts still stored in my EDS address book, so it’s really useful for me to be able to consult them. When I type an address in Mutt’s To: field, for example, I give a few letters and then hit Ctrl+T to see a list of completions.
Unfortunately, the script stopped working when I moved to Fedora 18, because the new release contains the newest Evolution and EDS (3.6 versions). The new EDS cleans up a number of deprecated functions and has a more regular interface for querying data sources. Obviously that means the mutt-eds-query needed changing too. I used the extensive GNOME developer documentation to find out what had changed, and updated the script I found on the Mutt wiki.
So I hacked in some changes today. I’m not a born C programmer, so I’m sure there are bad style uses and other stupidities in what I did. Nevertheless, I posted the results alongside the original on the Mutt wiki page. I’ve also put my files up on my Fedora People space. Feel free to grab and try it, and let me know if it helps you. (You’ll need the evolution-data-server development libraries to compile it.)
In the future I’d like to update this script to aggregate and query my GNOME online accounts as well. There’s a very robust set of functions for doing that, and documentation, so if I could just find the spare cycles, I think I could probably make this happen. Alternately, I wonder if that might make a good addition to the folks-tools package?
Why has it been so hard to update my blog lately? Probably because my free time has dropped again recently, what with the band getting back together. I’m back to playing with my friends Steve and Rich, for the first time — not counting two spurious shows in 2010 — in over a decade. We spent most of the late ’90s gigging our way from North Carolina to Delaware. Those were great times.
A mutual friend of ours passed away recently, and I was reminded that life is short and making new great times need to be higher on my priority list. So we’re back on the circuit again, and it’s a lot of fun. But until I find a little more free time and something that really moves me to write about, I imagine this blog will be a little more sparse than it has been over the past years.
Yesterday was a hackfest/workshop day at FUDCon Blacksburg. I spent a little time listening in on secondary arch work going on around Fedora. It sounds like there is a lot of effort going into keeping secondary arches rolling really smoothly through Fedora 17 and beyond. There were some folks from IBM and Red Hat in attendance as well as other interested community members. This workshop went most of the day, but I wasn’t able to attend the whole thing.
I had to prep a short deck for my workshop on Drupal internals, which I managed after lunch. The idea behind this session was to start walking through internals of Drupal modules and the Drupal API. The goal was to convince the attendees that not only is Drupal fairly easy to customize, but you don’t have to be too skilled to start writing a Drupal module.
To reach that goal, we walked through a fairly simple module I wrote that allows Fedora Insight to authenticate users and map roles via the Fedora Account System (FAS). he great thing about the workshop was there were a couple of Drupal professionals in attendance! So as a bonus I got some excellent suggestions about my module as we went through it.
Isn’t that what open source is supposed to be about? Yes, Dear Readers, it is — more eyes on my code, live in a session, meant a bunch of shallower bugs for me to fix. So, needless to say, the workshop went quite well.
I visited the “Try My Keyboard” workshop that Toshio set up, along with the Das Keyboard Silent Professional that I use at home. I tried several there, and one of them was a model based on Cherry MX Blues (like the non-silent Das Keyboard I considered) I really liked. It was fun to try out each unit in a really discriminating way and compare feel in terms of stroke, feedback, and effort.
I then attended the Board session which was a review of 2011 and how to move from the level of very high-level strategic goals to actually fixing some problems in Fedora and improving life for contributors. The consensus seemed to be that the Board members will champion specific fixes themselves — by contributing directly to the solutions. In other words, they’ll roll up their sleeves and get involved, which is always an approach that works well in a community like Fedora.
The only suggestion I offered, which I hope the Board will take to heart, is that as they think about what they want to accomplish for 2012, they should consider how they will know their fix works (measure it in some way). The Board is made up of fantastic individuals and I’m sure they will come up with worthwhile initiatives and bring their formidable skills to bear on helping the community work through them as a team. We’ll be hearing more about this at the beginning of February from what I understand.
Finally, I got together with Red Hat trademark attorney (and my buddy) Pam Chestek, Spot, Jared, and Ian Weller to go through the Fedora trademark guidelines with a fine toothed comb in advance of the session to cover those revisions on Saturday. We were able to tease out a lot of additional bug fixes and extra clarity and it was time well spent.
Unfortunately, by the time we finished, around 7:45pm, I was starting to feel pretty low. I’d been teetering on the edge of a cold (or some sort of bug) for a few days, but I actually became a bit feverish in the evening — feeling cold in rooms that were clearly not, even when I dressed too warmly, and so forth. But there was more to do; no rest for the wicked as they say.
I caught a quick but tasty dinner with Pam, and we enjoyed discussing the adventure of buying a car. I’m sure I was not as chipper as usual and hopefully wasn’t bad company — sorry if I flagged a little, Pam! After that I met briefly with Spot and Robyn to go over logistics for the next morning’s BarCamp and keynote activities. Robyn, being the saint she is, brought me a couple doses of NyQuil. So immediately after that, I headed to my room to burrow under covers and try and sleep off the fever.
Unfortunately, that meant I missed the Fedora Insight hacking I’d suggested for Friday night with Peter Borsa and Pascal Calarco. It was awful to feel so sick I couldn’t take advantage of having a wonderful team of collaborators in one place — especially since Peter was here from overseas. (Fortunately they generously forgave me!) Thankfully, though, I got a full night’s sleep and in the morning I felt better than I had in a couple days, so I could be up early and help get ready for BarCamp.
I’ll post more about the BarCamp and Day 2 tonight or tomorrow!
According to a robocall we received yesterday, our school system has just found out they can automate the process of calling a sizable chunk (if not all) of the schoolchildren’s parents in the county to alert us about “important news.” And the chirpy message from our county superintendent of schools notes that we can expect to hear from them repeatedly in the future. I was less than impressed.
Now, I for one am happy that our school system thinks it’s worth their time (and our money) to keep us informed about current events that impact our kids’ school experience. However, they already provide numerous ways for us to receive this news, including email, websites, RSS feeds, as well as the standard news organizations around town. We take advantage of a number of those already, and it’s very helpful.
For example, I love the fact that on a cold, wintry morning, my wife doesn’t have to tune into the radio and listen to 10 minutes of blather to find out whether schools are closed for icy roads. Since I work from home, I’m up anyway, and I can use my Web browser to consult the local news site or the school web page to find out closing information, and then let her know. (Or she can do the same with her smartphone, without getting out of bed.)
What I don’t want is a 5:00am phone call that wakes the whole house, just to tell us schools are running late or closed. Nor do I want to be interrupted at work or dinner to hear that the school board has a public meeting next week. I can find these things out through email, which I read on my schedule, not the school system’s.
You’d think our school system would have learned from this area brouhaha, which got some national media coverage too, if I recall correctly.
Worse, neither the phone call, nor the copy of the same message via email (I told you we use their services already!) had details on whom to contact to opt out. They did provide the general phone number for the entire school superintendent’s office, which in my experience means calling and then being put on hold for some indeterminate length of time while someone is found who can get us removed from their system. No thank you! In this day and age it should be neither difficult, nor unreasonable, to provide an opt-out system that I can reach by email, or a Web page, or (gasp!) via the phone call itself.
So this morning I sent the following inquiry to the administrative assistant for our superintendent, and copied the superintendent, his assistant, and our district’s school board member:
Hopefully that was cordial enough. We’re not tinfoil hat wearers in my house, we just like picking up the phone when it rings to find someone on the other end who’s (a) breathing, and (b) someone to whom we enjoy talking. What do you think? Am I being unreasonable?
The upcoming FUDCon in Tempe will be a rather interesting experience for me, because in a sense I’ll be returning to a role as an individual contributor in Fedora. One of the things I’m looking forward to doing in that role is sitting down with any contributors who are involved in, or interested in, working on our Drupal instance called Insight.
We have a very small group of people — albeit truly wonderful ones — who have been working on the system for a while now:
Although that sounds like a lot of people, every one of them has other things they’re working on, both inside and outside Fedora. As a result, our progress has been slower than any of us would prefer. That’s why I’m looking forward to sitting down with a few people and taking some uninterrupted time to push this project forward.
Not all the people on this list are going to be in Tempe, but that’s why we have IRC and other communication methods. A lot of what we need to do is easily done over the network. Nevertheless, having a few people in a room who are committed to sit still and pay attention to one project at a time will be very valuable.
I’m arriving on Friday afternoon for FUDCon, and leaving on a red-eye flight on Monday night, just after midnight. Since my new job at Red Hat doesn’t revolve as much around attending Fedora community activities, I really want to make the most of my time there. Happily there will be great weather and robust attendance from a lot of fantastic contributors, so that’s not going to be a difficult goal to achieve.
Although Mike McGrath and the Infrastructure team don’t expect the server relocation to affect our upcoming elections, we want to make sure the community’s ability to vote is not unnecessarily affected given the timing.
The original voting period was December 8-15, and the infrastructure move is occurring over the weekend of the 12th:
I talked this morning with Mike, John Rose, and Nigel Jones, and here’s the plan we arrived at:
We’ll be putting announcements out elsewhere as well — but as Darren noted, there’s nothing wrong with getting your vote in early!