status: prodigal update
Tue Apr 17 00:47:27 EDT 2007
EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES BOOMER (the work) BOOMER (the paperwork) BOOMER (the training) MVHUB CASH FLOW BUDGET ERIC BRYANT JOHN MILLER KAMALA KALLURI SUZANNE KNAPP MURIEL PARSEGHIAN NILAM KAPASI JOE GULBIKI LAST BOARD MEETING CONFERENCE IN CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE IN LOWELL CONFERENCE IN DC. MATT OUELLETTE JOSH BONNETT & ALIYA ABBASI MANUEL CASTILLO STEPHANE ALNET TIM DEERING NOTABLE TRIUMPH HEALTH, SLEEP, ETC EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES I notice that some of the bush administration people are getting in trouble for quoting scripture. So sadly, you succubi humorists without a broad liberal arts education will have some trouble figuring out the meaning of the subject line of this message. It has been months since the last status update. At least five days ago, I promised Josh I'd do an update "today" It feels like several times a week there is news worth reporting. I'll try to work backwards and get caught up. In the past weeks, there were a few times when it was necessary to spit out teeth, smile, and start swinging again. However, almost every day we are doing better than the previous. We have more volunteers than we've had ever. Our budget is 3 times what it was last year. We may get paid to take MVHub state wide and (I think) a plan is starting to come together. The only areas we are hurting are cash flow and sys admin labor. BOOMER (the work) I'd forgotten most of the little hassles of MS windows. (binary config files, licenses, spy-ware, high memory usage), but tech support for the little lab at the community center at Caleb's Chestnut Square and the boys and girls club has re-acquainted me with this entertainment. It is frustrating to delay the clean re-install of the OS, while licenses are hunted down or re-purchased. At this level tech support pays $10 an hour when it exists at all and there isn't much continuity between techs and their records. The folks at http://TechSoup.org are quite helpful and to give Microsoft credit you can purchase licenses pretty cheaply. I'm happy there still is no serious Linux Genuine Advantage   http://www.linuxgenuineadvantage.org/ I'd also gotten a bit blinded to little feature/bugs of Linux. Joe Gulbicki, one of our boomer volunteers managed hundreds of of windows 2003 servers for Verizon, before joining us but hasn't any Linux experience. When talking about doing security updates, it was a little weird to realize that there are at least 6 reasonable ways to apply security updates to a debian/ubuntu system (aptitude,gnome-apt, apt-get, synaptic, adept, update-manager) We're running xubuntu on a couple machines with 64Mb of RAM at Caleb. Everyone agrees this is better than MS XP. Things got a bit awkward when the locals asked: "How do I save to a floppy ?" I knew the answer wasn't: sudo mount /dev/fd0 /mnt/floopy cp ~/Desktop/homework.doc /mnt/floppy sudo umount /mnt/floppy CD-ROMs put a nice little icon on the desktop, but floppies are a bit more awkward. The latest (fawn: 07.04) version of xubuntu has a version of xfce that puts a floppy icon on the desktop. BOOMER (the paperwork) It feels like I've spent more time reporting on our results, creating plans and (trying to) recruit volunteers than actually working or providing the doubtful benefit of my supervision to volunteers. For a brief time, our payments were suspended as we had recruited 2 of the promised 6 boomer aged volunteers. (right now we're at 4 with a shot at 5) The biggest lesson learned was that when I had to the chance to revise the grant, I should have taken it. The grant was to start December and didn't start until February. I didn't lower our goals when I had the chance. Apparently there is a big difference between not meeting high goals and meeting low ones. Thanks to Peter Miller and Fred Martin for their advice on being tactful. Thanks to Josh Harding for his observation that one could simultaneously speak truth to power and step on one's own genitalia. BOOMER (the training) As part of the grant we were encouraged to attend training on attracting boomer volunteers. It was last Friday and it was was pretty good.  http://nationalserviceresources.org/epicenter/practices/index.php?ep_action=view&web_id=33560 Probably the biggest take-aways for me were that we should create short project-oriented volunteer descriptions. In the small group work, Eric, somebody from http://www.peacegames.org/ and I created a slogan for the lab: Upload Opportunity, Download Skill. Does this seem corny? MVHUB Felicia, Eric & I had a good meeting with consultants working for the Youth Services Division of Unemployment Services. Chris Shannon of the Merrimack Valley (Lawrence) WIB got us in the door. The state is gathering information about mvhub-like options. One of the consultants had already used mvhub in her daily work and liked it. They seemed very sympathetic to a decentralized approach. They asked questions like: "So, an agency doesn't have to be a paid up member of the United Way Network, to be in mvhub.com ?" It seems a dream, but if the work we are doing with for Chris Shannon and the WIB goes well, we have a chance of being paid to take mvhub state wide. We should follow-up in another 2-3 weeks. CASH FLOW It is possible to have positive net worth and still be tight financially. When your income exceeds your expenses, you have a net positive worth, or in non-profit accounting argot, you have a "positive fund balance" When your cash on hand is less than the bills you owe, you have a "cash flow problem." David Siegal, The CTC-VISTA project and my lovely and talented roommate are all creditors who were/are able to wait until our money comes in. Right now, we have $16,000 from a state agency committed to pay for http://mvhub improvements. John is willing to do the work. Coming off his VISTA term, he can't wait the 30-60 days it might take the state to pay us. By May 01, we need about $4,000 to keep John's paychecks flowing smoothly. A past donor has generously made us a $1000 loan from May 01 2007 to May 01 2008. I'm asking various people directly and personally for the remaining $3,000, but if anyone out there in radio land is feeling generous or sacrificial, we are accepting loans and donations  in a variety of formats.  http://thecsl.org/go/donate/ Donations of any size receive a beer and a friend to drink it with. Loans of any size are rewarded with a muffin and coffee. BUDGET Eric Bryant took various quarterly budgets, categorized uncategorized expenses in the checkbook register and created an annual budget  for us and people we ask for grant money. When the budget was written we were at $52,556. This feels like a high number until we realize most of money flowing in it is flowing back out.  http://thecsl.org/sys/finance.d/budget-fy-2006-2007.xls There are some updates to be made. Time has past and projections have converted to reality (or not). I'll post an update in the next week or so. ERIC BRYANT We should have hired Eric, our VISTA fund-raising coordinator three years ago. Joel explains why .  http://joelonsoftware.com/articles/DevelopmentAbstraction.html I'm a half-empty glass, hair shirt, sucks less kind of guy but Eric is great. Before he came along, all the stuff that wasn't system administration or writing code was getting done by me, grudgingly and half-assed. In his short time with us so far, Eric applied for 4 grants, figured out the IRS, went to a million meetings, brought in $1000, re-wrote our brochure, fixed problems in our website and offered helpful criticism of our marketing strategy. (like we need one) He likes to work. He likes to figure things out. He's not perfect, he's better than perfect because I can tell him when he's not perfect. It's great having somebody below decks with me. I had the hope that when Eric came on board, I'd be doing less of this stuff and more coding. As it turns out I'm doing more of this stuff because Eric is here to remind me it is important for our contribution to the revolution. The only thing that scares me is that I suspect he's a closet tech. The other day, I caught him writing raw HTML for an online grant application. JOHN MILLER If you look at our semi-updated people page , you'll notice John has done a lot of work with us in the past 18 months. This doesn't count his help at thecsl.org work or tutoring just generally doing what needs to be done.  http://thecsl.org/go/about/people/ More people have sought me out to tell me how patient and helpful John is than have sought me out for everyone else who has worked here put together. We're (the royal we anyway) really excited that he's off the root@ and help@ lists and probably focused on mvhub. KAMALA KALLURI Kamala still chugging away on the downtime database. If it were not for Kamala, we would not be able to make slow steady improvements to the software we need to be a good ISP. When we have a control panel, it will be because of Kamala. In her spare time, Kamala has worked on getting wordpress and gallery installed.  http://wordpress.com/  http://gallery.menalto.com/ SUZANNE KNAPP Suzanne was with us in the beginning, one of the group of Saturday volunteers along with Tim O'Conner and Dave McCabe, working on the consortium site.  which ran on the first 200Mhz brave.cs.uml.edu  http://lctc.org/ It's been a couple years too long since we've worked together. As a Boomer volunteer, Suzanne is working on a DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT web site for the Renaissance Club.   http://www.renclublowell.org/test-blog/ The whole thing is being done in WordPress. If things continue to go well, The club be able to update their own site and we'll be able to provide websites for groups that can't handle uploading files or getting a PhD in Drupel. JOHN MILLER KAMALA KALLURI SUZANNE KNAPP MURIEL PARSEGHIAN Mimi is the newest member of the board, She's got a solid marketing background, is one of the stars of http://LeftInLowell.com and is (yay!) the first board member not nominated by me. Her lunch time conversation sparkles and we look forward to her contributions to the board. NILAM KAPASI Nilam was accepted to the CS Dept's MS program next fall. She's not yet legal to work in this country. She's is picking up some experience working on the Boxes project. Boxes is Chris Sacca's first Perl project Boxes has kept track of every server configuration change we've made for the past 2 years. I'm really excited about her work. There are relatively few people who accept the Lama , sit down, read it and do the exercises at the end of each chapter.  http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/learnperl4/ If things continue to go well, she'll polish off the rough edges of the Boxes project now making a pearl in my oyster then move on to make a solid contribution to mvhub. JOHN MILLER KAMALA KALLURI SUZANNE KNAPP MURIEL PARSEGHIAN NILAM KAPASI JOE GULBIKI Joe is also a boomer volunteer. We've been chugging away @ Caleb building whole boxes from parts. It's great working with somebody who doesn't share my Linux centric view of the world. LAST BOARD MEETING The minutes  are complete.  http://lists.thecsl.org/pipermail/divinerightofkings/2007-February/000413.html The big take-away (as I understand it) is that we charge $25/hr for work if: 1) The work benefits only one organization 2) The work is done by somebody collecting some sort of wage or stipend. CONFERENCE IN CALIFORNIA We sat in a circle, held hands and sang. I loved it. As I got a free ride (thanks to $500 from Felicia and $350 from Aspiration Tech), I contributed these paragraphs to the conference funder thanking blurbage: Before the Aspiration Tech Dev Summit, we sought funding to add features to http://mvhub.com. Now we are trying to build a community of developers around MVHub. Our thinking changed after the session on organizational software collaboration. I'd read the software culture chapters in Karl Fogal's CVS book but they'd not clicked. Things clicked when Brian Behlendorf noted that he'd funded only 20% of Subversion and recommended Karl Fogal's recent book on producing open source software. I arbitrarily define "community of developers" as a group of developers connected primarily as by their project (as apposed to a connected by a paycheck), who regularly contribute code to their project. By this definition there are apparently **NO** open source projects with a community of developers who are working toward solving non-profit problems. There are some more thoughts along these lines in our Google Summer of Code Application at: http://thecsl.org/go/vol/gsoc/2007/ Some time after thanking me, Gunner (Allen Gunn) noted that: "Brian Behlendorf has so much reputation from creating Apache, that if he asked for somebody to run down to 7-11 to get him a Cherry Slurpe, he'd have 30 people begging for the job." ...but if we can teach a course around mvhub development... CONFERENCE IN LOWELL It is going to be 3 day festival of love. Thursday June 21 is grassroots radio , Friday June 22 is Penguin Day  and Saturday June 23 is grassroots technology day. Pay for one conference day and get 2 days free.  http://www.grassrootsradioxii.org/?page_id=4  http://penguinday.aspirationtech.org/index.php/Lowell:Penguin_Day_Agenda  http://organizerscollaborative.org/conference07/agenda We're helping with Penguin Day. CONFERENCE IN DC. We (Kamala, John, Eric and I) went to NTEN.  It was a requirement of the VISTA program. We won a $1000 prize, recognition in front of a plenary and trophy that looks like an artifact from one of the first season of the original star trek.  http://nten.org/ntc The high point was somebody from wilderness technology  handing us 20 Xeon CPUs to use in any way we wanted except re-sale.  http://www.wildtech.org/mission.htm The cheapest xeon, I could find on NewEgg was $153. One of their VISTAs remembered John & I from the VISTA orientation. Apparently the blessed virgin interceded on our behalf and made my rant: "Don't whine, most of the world lives on $2 per day, suck it up, be humble, accept service." ... sound positive and supportive. Thanks to Ken Kleiner, who rebooted the mail server and limited downtime to an hour instead of 3 days. Thanks also to Eric Bryant for putting a $1000 hotel bill on his credit card. The lab doesn't have a credit card and the debit card can only be charged $1000 per day. Really the only downside was sleeping in a room with 4 other people who snored. (Jeff Blakely and Rich Cowen crashed with us) JOHN MILLER KAMALA KALLURI SUZANNE KNAPP MURIEL PARSEGHIAN NILAM KAPASI JOE GULBIKI LAST BOARD MEETING CONFERENCE IN CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE IN LOWELL CONFERENCE IN DC. MATT OUELLETTE Matt, the guy that brought us Mon and Xen has a good job  and it couldn't happen to a more worthy guy.  http://www.netnumber.com/ JOSH BONNETT & ALIYA ABBASI When I was in California for the developer's summit I ran into our old friend Nodus. He noticed my whining about the BART on cadre-politics and figured I must be in his neighborhood. VISTA leader, Aliya Abbasi was kind enough to invited me to pizza with the local CTC-VISTAs and Josh was my date. At dinner, Josh confessed to working in Lowell for 5 months at below VISTA wages. After dinner Josh picked up way more than his share of the dinner tab, because right now now he's working for a good bit more than VISTA wages. At the post-conference trivia contest, the three of us did relatively well. We were getting whomped with questions like: "What is the name of the yellow dog owned by Allen Gunn's best friend who attended a previous conference." ...Until we realized the trick was to submit questions we could answer and other people couldn't. Once we started on questions like: "What port does DNS run on?" ...We did pretty well as the competition were predominantly software developers without much arcane sys admin knowledge. We finished in the middle. MANUEL CASTILLO I've not IM'd Manny in the past few weeks, but at least a few weeks ago, he seemed to be doing ok in Dubai. He's taking "Arabic As a Second Language", "Intro to Arabic Culture" and "Intro to Arabic History" and I think "Cooking Arabic Style" Once, he cut the conversation short as it was raining. Apparently it rains only twice a year and when it does everyone runs outside. JOHN MILLER KAMALA KALLURI SUZANNE KNAPP MURIEL PARSEGHIAN NILAM KAPASI JOE GULBIKI LAST BOARD MEETING CONFERENCE IN CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE IN LOWELL CONFERENCE IN DC. MATT OUELLETTE JOSH BONNETT & ALIYA ABBASI MANUEL CASTILLO STEPHANE ALNET The last time I emailed with Stephane, he'd just gotten the first round of venture capital for his company. If anyone is looking to make money, I'd invest it with Stephane.  http://carrierclass.net/ TIM DEERING Tim's got some good windows sys admin / support chops. He's been coming in on Thursday nights after his day job and after dropping his 16 year old son off at play rehearsal. He's using Perl to parse the samba part of LDAP so was to create a batch/VBA file that will automatically mount the shares for people in BSM NOTABLE MISTAKE Even after your organization closes the doors, pay $10 a year for a few years so the domain name fade away. For a time Saint Julie's domain was returning a porno site. JOHN MILLER KAMALA KALLURI SUZANNE KNAPP MURIEL PARSEGHIAN NILAM KAPASI JOE GULBIKI LAST BOARD MEETING CONFERENCE IN CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE IN LOWELL CONFERENCE IN DC. MATT OUELLETTE JOSH BONNETT & ALIYA ABBASI MANUEL CASTILLO STEPHANE ALNET TIM DEERING NOTABLE TRIUMPH We had problems with csl-dns-03.thecsl.org We have csl-dns-01 and csl-dns-02, in different physical locations than csl-dns-03. Instead of blowing off the training on Friday, I just turned csl-dns-03 off until it could be fixed. Thanks to the work of bunch of people including but not limited to Stephane Alnet, Ivan Poon, John Miller, Eric Adum and Chris Sacca. HEALTH, SLEEP, ETC I'm mostly feeling smug about sleep. I've got through a couple 2 week periods without touching the Gym. I had a big break-through when I realized that I didn't have to go at 8:00am on weekdays. John's been biking in. I've seen Kamala going round the track on a couple Saturday afternoons.