Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Making ends meet.

Making ends meet.

I’m going to start this post with a plug, but it’s worthy, I swear.

Since some good friends of mine are watching our kids next weekend while my wife and I escape travel up to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to house hunt, I thought it’s only fair to plug a bit for them. They have several Web based businesses, and one of them,, sells independent releases of great dub/chill, electronic, world, and other environment-creating music.

They even have a radio station — it’s through, but you can pick up the PLS file there and use it through your favorite player. And hopefully it’ll fill you with enough joy that you’ll pick up couple of worthy releases there and give money to a deserving independent artist trying to make it in the cold, hard world of effing Clear Channel and the like.

Now as far as I can tell, the music on is available in VBR MP3 format on the site, but I’ll bet that if you contct the management and tell ’em I sent you, he can probably arrange Ogg Vorbis for you if you like. ?

This music has been helping me make good time doing a lot of tasks in my first week as a remote employee. That may sound easy to those of you who roll out of bed to code (u know who u r Luke Macken, Emacs crew 4evah, FACE! muahaha j/k), but to a fogey like me this is a major life change. I’m used to the watercooler circuit, “let’s grab lunch,” and having someone around with whom to exchange revolting profanities (other than my wife). Cool, positive musical soundscapes that drown out distractions while not drawing my attention have been a huge boon.

So one thing that hasn’t changed is that these days I still get up at 6:00. After getting cleaned up, though, I make coffee and just head downstairs to work. (Speaking of which, I think I want a new coffeepot — one of the ones you can just pour the beans in. I don’t think I can deal with all the moving parts that early in the morning.) As Max told me when we wrapped up my Raleigh visit last Friday, I do end up spending a lot of time reading and writing email, and given my wordsmithing tendencies, it’s sometimes tough for me to let go of a draft, a habit I’m trying hard to break in the interests of efficiency.

Fortunately I’ve been able to TALK — yes, using my mouth and a phone — to a number of Red Hat folks this week who before were only names attached to particular issues or stories. A lot of this week I spent opening up lines of communication, introducing myself to people who don’t know me yet in the company, and getting involved in some of the issues that will probably be more consuming of my time over the next few months — Board-related, legal, staffing, planning, and financial.

It’s clear to me this is an evolutionary process and I’ll probably make some quantum leaps when I get into the Westford office the week of the 25th. Especially since I’ll get a few hours of my manager’s time when I’m no longer dressed like Li’l Guvmint Executive (New! Comes with suspenders, stack of Anti-Action Bureaucratic Pushing Papers, and his very own Lo-End™ CrippleCrackberry!).

I had a fairly constant stream of meetings too, between teleconferences, ad hoc IRC talks, and one-on-one phone calls. (Item #37 on the culture shock list: IRCing your manager.) If it still looks a little opaque from where you’re sitting, I apologize. A lot of what I worked on this week was getting into channels and making opportunities in the company that will be important down the line when trying to get Fedora services or resources. So in the long run, the discovery process I’m going through now I hope will reap community-facing benefits in the coming release cycles.

I’ve been finding that “Fedora” is on the lips of pretty much everyone in Red Hat, usually to a surprising extent. It can’t hurt that the CEO is a fan of ours. (Jim, I know you’re reading, so let me mention that you’re invited to the almost-certainly-happening Fedora party at my house around Summit-time. I’ll have a special bottle of Kool-Aid refill for ya.)

Before I go, I want to point out that his feature-fu ninja skills are just the beginning; John Poelstra has been just about the best possible gift that Red Hat Engineering Services could give to Fedora. The guy has a seemingly endless supply of whatever it is that Gets [Stuff] Done. Besides his wrangling of at a goodly number of the conference meetings I was at this week — including the Fedora Board call — he also had time to lend me a friendly ear and some sage advice on the ups and downs of being part of the Red Hat Remote Experience. Plus he sent me some cool information on mail filtering tonight.

I’ve been thinking about the whole GTD way of doing things — and how I need to finish the book this weekend — and I’ve decided I want to start a new meme.

From here on out, the efficiency and GTDishness of things should be rated in poelstras. So for instance, my wife’s chore box generates roughly 132 poelstras (or 132P), and my office desk is maybe 47P. Absolute inefficiency, that with which absolutely nothing can be accomplished, is 0P. It would be very difficult to attain this rating in practice, since you could distract a raging grizzly bear, for example, with Paris Hilton, making her worth several hundred P depending on her relative location compared to you and the bear in question.

Can we adopt this measurement in Fedora-land? Yes we can!

One comment

  1. Yes, that’s right, my friend, music is the savior of the remote worker. Don’t forget to throw your pair of head cans in your laptop bag, you’ll find yourself addicted to really getting stuff done no matter where you butt sits.

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