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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 [1]
 
 	[1] 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.[2]  It was last Friday and it was was pretty good.
 
 [2]
 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 [3] in a variety of
 formats.
 
 	[3] 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 [4] 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.
 
 	[4] 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 [5].
 
 [5] 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 [6], 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.
 
 	[6] 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 [7]and
 gallery[8] installed.
 
 	[7] http://wordpress.com/
 	[8] 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. [9] which ran on the first 200Mhz brave.cs.uml.edu
 
 	[9] 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. [10]
 
 	[10] 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 [11], sit down, read it and do the exercises at the end
 of each chapter.
 
 	[11] 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 [12] are complete.
 
 [12]
 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 [13], Friday June 22 is Penguin Day [14] and Saturday June 23 is
 grassroots technology day. Pay for one conference day and get 2 days free.
 
 	[13] http://www.grassrootsradioxii.org/?page_id=4
 	[14]
 http://penguinday.aspirationtech.org/index.php/Lowell:Penguin_Day_Agenda
 [15] http://organizerscollaborative.org/conference07/agenda
 
 We're helping with Penguin Day.
 
 CONFERENCE IN DC.
 We (Kamala, John, Eric and I) went to NTEN. [16] 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.
 
 	[16] http://nten.org/ntc
 
 The high point was somebody from wilderness technology [17] handing us
 20 Xeon CPUs to use in any way we wanted except re-sale.
 
 	[17] 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 [18] and it
 couldn't happen to a more worthy guy.
 
 	[18] 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.[19]  If anyone is looking to make
 money, I'd invest it with Stephane.
 
 	[19] 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.