While I mentioned last September that I had failed to be selected for an H-1B and had been having discussions at DebConf about alternative employment, I never got around to elaborating on what I’d ended up doing.
Short answer: I ended up becoming a law student, studying for a Masters in Legal Science at Queen’s University Belfast. I’ve just completed my first year of the 2 year course and have managed to do well enough in the 6 modules so far to convince myself it wasn’t a crazy choice.
Longer answer: After Vello went under in June I decided to take a couple of months before fully investigating what to do next, largely because I figured I’d either find something that wanted me to start ASAP or fail to find anything and stress about it. During this period a friend happened to mention to me that the applications for the Queen’s law course were still open. He happened to know that it was something I’d considered before a few times. Various discussions (some of them over gin, I’ll admit) ensued and I eventually decided to submit an application. This was towards the end of August, and I figured I’d also talk to people at DebConf to see if there was anything out there tech-wise that I could get excited about.
It turned out that I was feeling a bit jaded about the whole tech scene. Another friend is of the strong opinion that you should take a break at least every 10 years. Heeding her advice I decided to go ahead with the law course. I haven’t regretted it at all. My initial interest was largely driven by a belief that there are too few people who understand both tech and law. I started with interests around intellectual property and contract law as well as issues that arise from trying to legislate for the global nature of most tech these days. However the course is a complete UK qualifying degree (I can go on to do the professional qualification in NI or England & Wales) and the first year has been about public law. Which has been much more interesting than I was expecting (even, would you believe it, EU law). Especially given the potential changing constitutional landscape of the UK after the recent general election, with regard to talk of repeal of the Human Rights Act and a referendum on exit from the EU.
Next year will concentrate more on private law, and I’m hoping to be able to tie that in better to what initially drove me to pursue this path. I’m still not exactly sure which direction I’ll go once I complete the course, but whatever happens I want to keep a linkage between my skill sets. That could be either leaning towards the legal side but with the appreciation of tech, returning to tech but with the appreciation of the legal side of things or perhaps specialising further down an academic path that links both. I guess I’ll see what the next year brings. :)
Yesterday morning we awoke at silly o'clock to take the train to catch the ferry from Poole to Guernsey. The ferry was rather busy with people going to the Island Games in Jersey, but we got off a St. Peter Port. We walked up the hill to our B&B to discover there had been a booking error and they were actually full - so they took us to another hotel (an extra star) where we stayed instead.
The glorious weather we had for our crossing had mostly deserted us and it had become rather dull and flat. However the predicted rain didn't turn up so we were able to explore the town without getting wet and were able to find some food for dinner.
This morning was great, after our breakfast we went into town to explore further. Once we had bought lunch bits we took the bus towards the airport, getting off one stop shy, then we walked all along the southern coast back to St. Peter Port. The walking was easy and the views were beautiful - very reminiscent of the Brittany coast or Cornwall. More like the UK and less like France they were a bit stingy with with signs and it was a bit confusing in places - the French GR paint marking system is very simple and much easier to navigate with than the occasional sign!
When we made it back to town we had a look at La Valette Underground Military Museum, which was most fascinating, and packed with more stuff than you would imagine could fit in such a small place.
For dinner we decided to try eating out. La Creperie was strange, the staff appeared to be of Slavic origin, half the menu was not crepe or galette, but the galette was actually quite good though the crepe was only average. Definitely fusion food!
The Core Infrastructure Initiative announced today that they will support two Debian Developers, Holger Levsen and Jérémy Bobbio, with $200,000 to advance their Debian work in reproducible builds and to collaborate more closely with other distributions such as Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenWrt to benefit from this effort.
The Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) was established in 2014 to fortify the security of key open source projects. This initiative is funded by more than 20 companies and managed by The Linux Foundation.
The reproducible builds initiative aims to enable anyone to reproduce bit by bit identical binary packages from a given source, thus enabling anyone to independently verify that a binary matches the source code from which it was said it was derived. For example, this allow the users of Debian to rebuild packages and obtain exactly identical packages to the ones provided by the Debian repositories.
After leaving IBM I’ve joined Pace at their Belfast office. It is quite a change of IT sectors, though still the same sort of job. Software development seems to have a lot in common no matter which industry it is for.
The job is still Software Development, and there should be some fun challenges with things like allowing a TV set top box to do on demand video content when all you have is a one-way data stream from a satellite, for instance, which make for some interesting solutions. I’m working in the Cobalt team which deals with a delivering data from the TV provider onto set top boxes, so things like settings, software updates, programme guides and on demand content and even apps. Other teams in the office work with the actual video content encryption and playback and the UI the set top box shows.
The local office seems to be all running Fedora, so I’m saying goodbye to Ubuntu at work. I already miss it, but hopefully will find Fedora enjoyable in the long term.
The office is on the other side of Belfast so is a marginally longer commute, but it’s still reasonable to get to. Stranmillis seems a nice area of Belfast, and it’s a 10 minute walk to the Botanical gardens so I intend to make some time to see it over lunch, which will be nice as I really miss getting out as I could in Hursley and its surrounding fields.
Also, web services generally spit out one of a fairly common set of formats: (json, xml, html) and I often just want to grab a value from the response and use it in a script - maybe to make the next call in a workflow.
So I made please which makes it super simple to do things like making a web request and grabbing a particular value from the response.
For example, here's how you'd get the page title from this site:please get http://offend.me.uk/ | please parse html.head.title.#text
Or getting a value out of the json returned by jsontest.com's IP address API:please get http://ip.jsontest.com/ | please parse ip
The parse part of please is the most fun; it can convert between a few different formats. Something I do quite often is grabbing a json response from an API and spitting it out as yaml so I can read it easily. For example:please get http://date.jsontest.com/ | please parse -o yaml
(alright so that's a poor example but the difference is huge when it's a complicated bit of json)
Also handy for turning an unreadable mess of xml into yaml (I love yaml for its readability):echo '<docroot type="messydoc"><a><b dir="up">A tree</b><b dir="down">The ground</b></a></docroot>' | please parse -o yaml
As an example, of the kinds of things you can play with, I made this tool for generating graphs from json.
I'm still working on please; there will be bugs; let me know about them.
Once again,The West Yorkshre Linux User Group is proud to announce its montly meeting. As usual it is in The Lord Dracy on Harrogate Road, near the grammar school and a small row of shops. The time and date are, the last monday of the month , 29th of June at 7pm.
Recently I've been experimenting with camlistore, which is yet another object storage system.
Camlistore is designed exactly how I'd like to see an object storage-system - each server allows you to:
It should be noted more is possible, there's a pretty web UI for example, but I'm simplifying. Do your own homework :)
With those primitives you can allow a client-library to upload a file once, then in the background a bunch of dumb servers can decide amongst themselves "Hey I have data with ID:33333 - Do you?". If nobody else does they can upload a second copy.
In short this kind of system allows the replication to be decoupled from the storage. The obvious risk is obvious though: if you upload a file the chunks might live on a host that dies 20 minutes later, just before the content was replicated. That risk is minimal, but valid.
There is also the risk that sudden rashes of uploads leave the system consuming all the internal-bandwith constantly comparing chunk-IDs, trying to see if data is replaced that has been copied numerous times in the past, or trying to play "catch-up" if the new-content is larger than the replica-bandwidth. I guess it should possible to detect those conditions, but they're things to be concerned about.
Anyway the biggest downside with camlistore is documentation about rebalancing, replication, or anything other than simple single-server setups. Some people have blogged about it, and I got it working between two nodes, but I didn't feel confident it was as robust as I wanted it to be.
I have a strong belief that Camlistore will become a project of joy and wonder, but it isn't quite there yet. I certainly don't want to stop watching it :)
On to the more personal .. I'm all about the object storage these days. Right now most of my objects are packed in a collection of boxes. On the 6th of next month a shipping container will come pick them up and take them to Finland.
For pretty much 20 days in a row we've been taking things to the skip, or the local charity-shops. I expect that by the time we've relocated the amount of possesions we'll maintain will be at least a fifth of our current levels.
We're working on the general rule of thumb: "If it is possible to replace an item we will not take it". That means chess-sets, mirrors, etc, will not be carried. DVDs, for example, have been slashed brutally such that we're only transferring 40 out of a starting collection of 500+.
Only personal, one-off, unique, or "significant" items will be transported. This includes things like personal photographs, family items, and similar. Clothes? Well I need to take one jacket, but more can be bought. The only place I put my foot down was books. Yes I'm a kindle-user these days, but I spent many years tracking down some rare volumes, and though it would be possible to repeat that effort I just don't want to.
I've also decided that I'm carrying my complete toolbox. Some of the tools I took with me when I left home at 18 have stayed with me for the past 20+ years. I don't need this specific crowbar, or axe, but I'm damned if I'm going to lose them now. So they stay. Object storage - some objects are more important than they should be!
I always seem to forget this one.
To pass F11 or F12 over a serial connection (either real serial or Serial-over-LAN IPMI), it’s Escape followed by ! (Shift+1) or @ (Shift+') respectively.
Note that on a US keyboard ! and @ would be next to each other above the 1 and 2 keys so that would make some vague kind of sense as alternatives to F11 and F12. But it’s literally the @ that matters and since I’m using a UK keyboard then it is Shift+'.
TL;DR: Most motherboards have a serial header in an IDC-10 (5×2 pins) arrangement with the pins as a row of even numbered pins (2,4,6,8,X) followed by a row of odd numbered pins (1,3,5,7,9). Supermicro ones appear to have the pins in sequential order (6,7,8,9,X and then 1,2,3,4,5). As a result a standard IDC-10 to DB-9 cable will not work and you’ll need to either hack one about or buy the Supermicro one.Are we sitting comfortably?
I bought a Supermicro motherboard. It doesn’t have a serial port exposed at the back. I like to use serial ports for a serial console even though I am aware that IPMI exists. IPMI on this board works okay but I like knowing I can always get to the “real” serial port as well.
The motherboard has a COM1 serial header, and I wasn’t using the PCI expansion slot on the back of the chassis, so I decided to put a serial port there. I bought a typical IDC-10 / DB-9 cable and plate:
Didn’t work. Serial-over-LAN (IPMI) worked alright. On COM1 I would get either nothing or a run of garbage characters from time to time. I wasted a good number of hours messing with BIOS settings, baud rates, checking if my USB serial adaptor actually worked with another device (of which I only have one in my home), before I decided to sit down and check the pin numbering for both the header and the cable.
Looking at the motherboard manual we see this:
And the cable?
Notice anything amiss?
The cable’s pins go in a row of odd numbers and then a row of even numbers:2 4 6 8 X 1 3 5 7 9 -
The X is the missing pin (serial uses 9 pins) and the - indicates where the notch for the connector would be: next to pin 5 in this case.
The header’s pins go in sequential order:6 7 8 9 X 1 2 3 4 5 -
As a result all but pin 1 are incorrect.
You actually need a Supermicro cable for this. CBL-0010L is the part number in my case. CBL-0010LP would be the low profile version. Good luck finding it mentioned on Supermicro’s site, but your favourite reseller will probably know of it. As it was I found one on Ebay for £1.58+VAT, and it works now.
After knowing what to search for I also found someone else having a similar issue with a Supermicro board.
You could of course instead hack any existing cable’s pins about or fit an adaptor in between (as the person in the above link did).
Thanks Supermicro. Thupermicro.
Time has come once again to announce WYLUG’s monthly meeting. As usual it will be held in the Lord Darcy. As usual it will start at around 7pm. There will be no obligation to book in advance. However, the man with the red hat lanyard will not be there to guide you steps, this month.
Arbitrary tweets made by TheGingerDog up to 16 June 2014
Attempt to pass homeopathy off as credible by combining it with empirically valid medicine.
We woke to continual thunder.
I think it is time to leave the country.
It seems Mozilla is targeting emerging markets and developing nations with $25 cell phones. This is tremendous news, and an admirable focus for Mozilla, but it is not without risk.
Bringing simple, accessible technology to these markets can have a profound impact. As an example, in 2001, 134 million Nigerians shared 500,000 land-lines (as covered by Jack Ewing in Businessweek back in 2007). That year the government started encouraging wireless market competition and by 2007 Nigeria had 30 million cellular subscribers.
This generated market competition and better products, but more importantly, we have seen time and time again that access to technology such as cell phones improves education, provides opportunities for people to start small businesses, and in many cases is a contributing factor for bringing people out of poverty.
So, cell phones are having a profound impact in these nations, but the question is, will it work with FirefoxOS?
I am not sure.
In Mozilla’s defence, they have done an admirable job with FirefoxOS. They have built a powerful platform, based on open web technology, and they lined up a raft of carriers to launch with. They have a strong brand, an active and passionate community, and like so many other success stories, they already have a popular existing product (their browser) to get them into meetings and headlines.
Success though is judged by many different factors, and having a raft of carriers and products on the market is not enough. If they ship in volume but get high return rates, it could kill them, as is common for many new product launches.
What I don’t know is whether this volume/return-rate balance plays such a critical role in developing markets. I would imagine that return rates could be higher (such as someone who has never used a cell phone before taking it back because it is just too alien to them). On the other hand, I wonder if those consumers there are willing to put up with more quirks just to get access to the cell network and potentially the Internet.
What seems clear to me is that success here has little to do with the elegance or design of FirefoxOS (or any other product for that matter). It is instead about delivering incredibly dependable hardware. In developing nations people have less access to energy (for charging devices) and have to work harder to obtain it, and have lower access to support resources for how to use new technology. As such, it really needs to just work. This factor, I imagine, is going to be more outside of Mozilla’s hands.
So, in a nutshell, if the $25 phones fail to meet expectations, it may not be Mozilla’s fault. Likewise, if they are successful, it may not be to their credit.
I am a firm believer in building strong and empowered communities. We are in an age of a community management renaissance in which we are defining repeatable best practice that can be applied many different types of communities, whether internal to companies, external to volunteers, or a mix of both.
I have been working to further this growth in community management via my books, The Art of Community and Dealing With Disrespect, the Community Leadership Summit, the Community Leadership Forum, and delivering training to our next generation of community managers and leaders.
Last year I ran my first community management training course, and it was very positively received. I am delighted to announce that I will be running an updated training course at three events over the coming months.OSCON
On Sunday 20th July 2014 I will be presenting the course at the OSCON conference in Portland, Oregon. This is a tutorial, so you will need to purchase a tutorial ticket to attend. Attendance is limited, so be sure to get to the class early on the day to reserve a seat!
Firstly, on Fri 22nd August 2014 I will be presenting the course at LinuxCon North America in Chicago, Illinois and then on Thurs Oct 16th 2014 I will deliver the training at LinuxCon Europe in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Tickets are $300 for the day’s training. This is a steal; I usually charge $2500+/day when delivering the training as part of a consultancy arrangement. Thanks to the Linux Foundation for making this available at an affordable rate.
Space is limited, so go and register ASAP:
So what is in the training course?
My goal with each training day is to discuss how to build and grow a community, including building collaborative workflows, defining a governance structure, planning, marketing, and evaluating effectiveness. The day is packed with Q&A, discussion, and I encourage my students to raise questions, challenge me, and explore ways of optimizing their communities. This is not a sit-down-and-listen-to-a-teacher-drone on kind of session; it is interactive and designed to spark discussion.
The day is mapped out like this:
I will warn you; it is an exhausting day, but ultimately rewarding. It covers a lot of ground in a short period of time, and then you can follow with further discussion of these and other topics on our Community Leadership discussion forum.
I hope to see you there!
Arbitrary tweets made by TheGingerDog up to 04 June 2014
Arbitrary tweets made by TheGingerDog up to 01 June 2014