Tag Archives: fedora talk

Power punch.

Fedora Talk, Gobby, and IRC make for a great combination when it comes to inclusive conferencing. I joined a bit late, but there’s a fantastic online-enhanced teleconference going on today to tease out all the details around No Frozen Rawhide.

Developers and maintainers will undoubtedly have questions about how the NFR changes might affect the different things they do every day in Fedora. So we have an excellent opportunity to get all those details elucidated, and then written up for easy reference.

The write-ups are being built as different use cases that will help us be crystal-clear about how NFR might affect someone (if at all) depending on what they’re trying to get done. Whether it’s building a brand-new package, pushing an update into the new pending tree, helping to test one of the branches, administering a mirror — there will be clear information for everyone.

Fedora Talk is great for a high-bandwidth, “Oh, I see what you mean” type conversation. But we scribe everything down to Gobby where anyone can watch the work as it happens — which in this case, is the development of the use cases.  And we’re also on IRC Freenode at #fedora-nfr to invite questions and comments.  This multiplication of communication doesn’t have to be confusing as long as everyone present is focused on the tasks at hand. On the contrary, it gives us many ways to react to input and get the work done faster, and more collaboratively.

Thanks to Jesse Keating and John Poelstra for putting this little mini-conference together!

Incidentally, our Docs team has been talking to Shaun McCance about using this type of multi-channel solution at the Desktop Help Summit so the conference can get more assistance and participation from remote attendees. It’s worked well at our Fedora Activity Day events which are very much the same kind of “can-do” context.

FAD Fedora Talk 2009, Day 2.

Today started with a bang — or maybe it didn’t. I don’t know, because for the first time in something like two years I managed to oversleep, missing my alarm clock by over an hour. That meant rushing around like crazy to get Ian up — actually Eleya did this, bless her heart — and get myself ready too. I ended up about a half hour late to pick up the folks for the FAD, although I did manage to SMS everyone to make sure that first, they knew I was on my way ASAP, and second, they let the folks on IRC know since I couldn’t get in front of a keyboard while making up any time.

Fortunately, everything worked out OK — we were at BusinessPlayce by 9:30am, and since we had been able to leave some of our equipment there overnight, thanks to the awesome Paul Delagrange, we were able to spring right into action. Jeff Ollie and Jared Smith immediately got to work on the Asterisk streaming and recording bits, Ian was back at work on his web front end, Jon Stanley was cobbling away on the various problems we’d found in our troubleshooting docs, and John Poelstra and I started working on updating all the use cases linked from our game plan.

By lunch we were well on our way to having on demand recording and streaming starting and stopping, along with reminders being issued in the call and to each new caller coming to the conference. This latter part is obviously useful since by law callers need to be aware that they’re being recorded not only at the beginning of a call, but also if they join partway through. Jared Smith also has customized Fedora Talk so that one can call an extension from a registered client to record a personalized name for one’s extension.

We did encounter some bugs in the latest Asterisk, but thanks to the fact that Jared runs with their developer crowd, we already have bugs filed and hope to receive fixes in the next update that will take care of some of those issues. I worked quite a bit on trying to put together a more logical workflow for the Fedora Talk web site, and I’ve put a copy of that work — a little further along than the one Jon Stanley kindly posted earlier — at my fedorapeople.org space. (It’s also in the fad-ftalk branch of the fedora-web git repo if you’re interested in helping.)

Today we started with one-hour blocks but again our hard time limits didn’t work as well in the afternoon as we cross-collaborated some. I think the blocks of time might be more effective in an environment where the various teams working on sprints at a FAD are separated from each other. That unfortunately lowers the ability to get ad-hoc questions answered quickly, but I suspect it would also allow people to be less distracted by different conversations. Personally, I like both ways of working and don’t think our output suffered badly, although I’d eagerly try a more rigorous approach just to compare and contrast them more easily as an experience.

We have a large output of work to point to in the way of tickets opened, tickets closed, work done, and notes taken on our wiki. I think we probably went from a state of about 20% done on this whole system to something like 80%. One of the big pieces still left is to make sure everything on the asterisk2 server gets correctly “puppetized” so that it can be recreated from bare metal if required. Our Infrastructure team makes very extensive use of Puppet for just this reason.

I found that hacking on the web site was quite enjoyable and I am feeling a little more familiar with git overall since I’m starting to use it more regularly. It’s nice to take some time to work on purely enjoyable technical work, but also to do it in a situation where people are collaborating and enjoying each other’s company too

After the FAD ended at 6:00pm or so, we packed up quickly and headed to my house, where Eleya had prepared an unusually hearty meal for everyone — a big roast beef dinner in the best style of “low country” cuisine. She called it a warmup for Thanksgiving, I called it delicious! Then we took a semi-break from keyboards and LCD screens to play some Rock Band in the basement on the home theater, complete with a lot of smiles and laughs. I got everyone back to the hotel by 11:00 and then headed home to do a bit more web cleanup and write this blog.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be waking — on time! — to take Jon to the train station in Fredericksburg, Ian and Jeff to the airport in Richmond, and then John Poelstra to the Richmond train station since he’s heading to RDU for a few days before he heads home to the other coast. Hopefully I should be home by around 3:00, at which point I suppose I’ll stiffen my upper lip and plunge back into my inbox, which I’m pretty sure is overflowing by this point.

It was another in a line of great Fedora Activity Days, and I want to thank Max Spevack of Red Hat’s Community Architecture team for giving us the funding to make it happen; John, Ian, Jeff, and Jon for traveling to Virginia to put in hard work on a precious weekend; Jared Smith for providing a ton of equipment, expertise, patience, and just plain good humor and good nature; Digium for their support in goodies and hardware; and Paul Delagrange of BusinessPlayce for hosting our hackathon.

FAD Fedora Talk 2009, Day 1.

After a very late night return from picking everyone up at Richmond and a hotel dropoff, I returned home (Ian Weller in tow) and crashed. Five hours later it was time to hit the bricks! My dog and I woke Ian, who, in the fine tradition of high schoolers everywhere, was difficult to wake but once having done so, immediately sprang into action.

We picked up the other folks, including Jon Stanley, John Poelstra, and Jeff Ollie for a fine Southern breakfast, where we joined up with Asterisk guru Jared Smith (to fight crime!) and then headed off to BusinessPlayce to get started. We met the owner Paul Delagrange, who saw our haul of equipment and immediately upgraded us to their larger conference room which happened to be empty. Thanks for your kindness, Paul.

I also have to thank SupaWife (Eleya) for making us freshly-baked, homemade goodies — a bag of amazing chocolate chip cookies and another bag of biscotti. Hopefully the BusinessPlayce folks were munching off them too, since we put them in the communal food area for people to take.Yum! (Or rather, yum install cookie.)

The BusinessPlayce office is clean, well kept, well stocked, and easy to get comfortable in. In no time, we had a bunch of different phones and network equipment set up, and got to work. John Poelstra, Jon Stanley and I worked on the user enablement tasks, including the talk.fedoraproject.org website and the materials we have for leading users through the steps of connecting to the system. Meanwhile, Jared Smith, Jeff Ollie, and Ian Weller worked on both the guts of our Asterisk server, to get it ready for stream recording, streaming, and publishing; and an application that will be used to expose more functionality to logged in users via a web interface.

I had a short rocky stretch at the beginning of the day where I tried to get some easy documentation of Empathy’s sofiasip-based client underway, but was stymied by what seems like a buggy implementation. Jared Smith confirmed that the telepathy-sofiasip code doesn’t appear to be responding properly to responses from the Asterisk server. Bug filing on the way.

Following that, though, I had a much more productive day working on the web pages, getting back into the groove of Git, the world’s greatest source code management system, and putting together a better page flow in a fad-ftalk experimental branch. It was a highly collaborative day as our user-page group tested each other’s pages, rewrote wording, helped each other understand genshi templates, using git to work more productively, and even debugging some strange HTML problems at one point.

In all honesty the work that Jared, Jeff, and Ian were doing was mostly beyond me, but we did spend some time whiteboarding a design for a simple conference room booking app which Ian then mocked up in HTML and is now working on coding in Moksha so it can become part of the Fedora Community portal. The initial release will be using dummy data but once it has proper connectors in place it will be able to show information about running conferences, start and stop recording, and so forth.

Tomorrow we’re going to dive into the GStreamer and icecast pieces, and hopefully make real headway on the streaming and publishing pieces of the puzzle. We’re hanging out in IRC Freenode #fedora-fad, and also have a conference line open on the Fedora Talk system itself. We may switch conference rooms tomorrow so that we’re using the “official” FAD room, which all of us forgot was there. Maybe we’re all just dunderheads, or maybe we can make that information more visible or obvious. 🙂

Day 1 has been pretty productive and I think tomorrow, with preliminaries out of the way, our 9:00 a.m. start time will be followed by a much faster acceleration! Everyone is working hard at the FAD and I’m really proud to be surrounded by such brilliant people. It’s one of the perks of being part of the Fedora community that I try never to take for granted. Great work today, folks!

Fedora Talk activity day.

For a while now, I’ve been working on plans for a FAD to work on our Fedora Talk VoIP system. There are a couple gaps I’d really like to fill, such as the ability to record, publish, and/or stream calls. These features would make the system much more capable of high transparency. They’d also contribute to an archival history that might help future contributors in the same way as other types of conference and meeting proceedings.

For example, it would be really cool if we could use the Talk server to record our sessions at FUDCon, which could be streamed and/or downloaded later by any community member. The only thing we’d need to do is to run a microphone into any laptop running a VoIP softphone on Fedora Talk, set the record level, and voila.

The raison d’être for any Fedora Activity Day is to gather a small number of interested contributors to a central location to work on short-term, focused goals that advance some part of the Fedora Project. (These are very different from the Fedora Users and Developers Conferences (FUDCons), which are much larger gatherings that serve many needs.) I’ve been to a couple of FADs this year already, including one for Documentation in Clemson, SC, and another for the development cycle in Raleigh, NC. So, in keeping with the slow sojourn up the East Coast, I am working on one that will be held in my hometown of Fredericksburg, VA.

It might be nice to add one more person with some Python and Infrastructure skills to our merry band, especially if they know something about streaming media. If you’re interested, drop me a line and put your name on the wiki page.

Decidedly not the Evil League of Evil.

NOTE: I thought I had posted this last week, but apparently it got filed away as a draft. Mea culpa.

John Poelstra and I introduced an informal release day planning group for Fedora 9. The goal was to act as a sort of cross-project resolution center, making sure that the different groups had what they needed as we push toward release. I’d say it was a fair success because:

  1. No one fell asleep in the calls.
  2. Some people told me it was very useful.
  3. We all agreed that sunrises are so much prettier than sunsets.

The last part there? I made that up. But seriously, the meeting actually did help us do some organizational depsolving, to hijack a bit of jargon. The ultimate goal is to make the release day a headache-free event. My hope is that in doing this again, and starting earlier, we can have an even more positive effect on the Fedora 10 release.

Just to be clear, the purpose of these calls is not to make policies — that’s the province of the lists and other more public and asynchronous venues. Instead, these calls are the equivalent of a high-bandwidth IRC chat. We tried to include a lead from every team we thought could help, including all the usual technical groups as well as artwork, marketing, docs, l10n, and so on:

  • Artwork – Mo Duffy
  • L10n – Dimitris Glezos
  • Docs – Karsten Wade
  • RelEng – Jesse Keating
  • Marketing – Jonathan Roberts
  • Engineering – Tom ‘spot’ Callaway, Jeremy Katz
  • Websites + Infrastructure – Ricky Zhou, Seth Vidal
  • QA – Will Woods

…and myself and John Poelstra. I’m not sure all these people are able to play the same role this time around, so if you’re interested in this group, we’d be happy to hear from you.

I want to use Fedora Talk for these calls, so ostensibly anyone can call in for the conferences. I’m not sure how well the Asterisk server’s current configuration can handle a high number of callers. It may just be a matter of using a lower-bandwidth codec to support a large number of callers; that’s a tradeoff to CPU load, but I expect these codecs (all free as in speech, of course) are extremely low cost overall.

I’ll post more news on this over the next few days as we iron out some additional details.