status: Life Support Tech Tip
Mon Aug 18 16:39:38 EDT 2008
META NEW GUY SAVES BIG BUCKS LICENSE ISSUE LIFE SUPPORT TECH TIP TELLING THE TRUTH FIRST VOLUNTEER MVHUB (code) FUNNY SOFTWARE VIDEO ERIC B IN TOUCH ANOTHER GOOFY AWARD WORD DOMINATION (north shore expansion) BUSINESS PLAN DONATIONS META If you need to speak geek to read this. I've failed.Free beer for first non-geek to ask a stupid queston. NEW GUY SAVES BIG BUCKS Mike F came to us from Lowell's career center, summer/first jobs program. So far, he's saved us $650. After a couple hours futzing. I decided that our fancy printer was broken. I set Mike to the job of researching a new one. I've got decades of IT experience and gravitas to rival James Earl Jones. Mike still didn't believe me. When he was on the clock, he followed orders and found a printer than could use our existing supply of expensive printer cartridges. After he clocked out, he proved that only the parallel port was broken. The USB wborks fine. We don't need to buy a new printer. Since Eric M, Josh B, Chris C, I've been coming home to Laura and saying "Honey, I found yet another 19 year old kid smarter than me." I guess I have to adjust to 15 year olds being smarter than me. It's also cool that somebody else now makes the office beer and cigarette run. LICENSE ISSUE At last report, we were using free google's code hosting service in violation of google's license. Their license doesn't permit our license. (I should have checked this before signing up) Our software is Affero GPL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affero_General_Public_License ...The regular old GPL preserves the 4 software freedoms (use,study,modification,re-distribution), only when you "distribute" software for people to install. Under the standard GPL, If you snail-mail a CD or allow people to download and install GPL licensed software that you've changed, you have to share the source code for your changes with everyone. The Affero license requires you to share your improvements and changes if other people use your software ***Over the Network.*** So for example if somebody runs mvhub on their web server, they have to give us (and the world) their improvements. Google wouldn't exist if it wasn't for free software. (a few million machines running Linux for example) They use it and improve it, but don't share it all. The tin-foil hat crowd says that Google doesn't like licenses that require them to share their secret software. Google says that there are already too many free and open source licenses, that too many licenses make it hard for people to share code and only a very small number of people are using the Affero license anyway. For us, the issue is moot, We're hosting on Launchpad now. (thanks Evan F) They support our license and they've committed to make the code for launchpad open source. LIFE SUPPORT TECH TIP As many know, recently, most of my attention was with the aging. One of my folks just stopped aging. There are always lessons. For example, the medical industrial complex ignores living wills.The responsible doctor didn't want to look at the document.He saw it as optional guidance for the person with power of attorney. Sometimes ignoring the document makes sense. The living may say "no respirator". When quick, full recovery is almost guaranteed with assisted breathing, the human should ignore the living will. At other times, the disgruntled or cowardly human can ignore your wishes and prolong your misery. Pick your loved ones well. In my recent experience, everything worked out as well as the situation permitted. TELLING THE TRUTH Part of the (CSL) mission is to infect the world with hacker culture memes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme Some of these memes are part of the cluetrain manifesto: Quoting: http://www.cluetrain.com/book/95-theses.html >You have two choices. You can continue >to lock yourself behind facile corporate >words and happytalk brochures. >Or you can join the conversation... >....markets are getting smarter—and >getting smarter faster than most >companies. >These markets are conversations. Their >members communicate in language that >is natural, open, honest, direct, funny >and often shocking. Whether explaining >or complaining, joking or serious, the >human voice is unmistakably genuine. >It can't be faked. FIRST VOLUNTEER MVHUB (code) Evan F is the first volunteer to contribute code, to mvhub. He started the summer with me saying: "Here are some books,learn perl" He also moved us from gogole code, to http://launchpad.net/ Now he's a perl guy and has some small familiarity with the code, his free time is ending (?) with the summer. (sigh) FUNNY SOFTWARE VIDEO Watch Linus Torvalds being paid by google to tell them that their version control software sucks: http://buytaert.net/linus-torvalds-on-git ...Its worth watching for sneaky sweet grin alone. In between dising google, Linus explains why he wrote his own version control software called "git" and touches on some concepts common to all 3rd generation VCS.(version control software) This video and email w/ Bob L that followed, got me thinking about version control software. Version control software is one of the things, we do right here at CSL Inc. Version control software is nifty, nifty stuff. To over-simplify, it is a mix of infinite undo and MS Word's "show changes" feature. Assuming "show changes" can show all changes back to when the document was created. When somebody makes a change to our code, we all get emailed a copy of the change to review. Chris S is the Debian maintainer for the software that lets us do this see: # geek link http://packages.qa.debian.org/c/cvs-syncmail.html When I'm trying to figure out a new bug, I can look at the changelog to find the spot where the bug was introduced. Right now we use CVS, which is very late 20th century. I've been toying with an evolutionary move to Subversion. Because... I want to reorganize the mvhub source tree. ("source tree" is a fancy way to say "folder with lots of sub folder and files") The tree is a wee bit untidy. More important, it isn't in shape to move us to a standard installer like from CPAN and/or debian. Moving directories and sub directories around in CVS is so painful that it is easier to think of switching version control software. Subversion is designed be a better CVS, like the C++ language is designed to be a better C language. I could re-arange the source tree in Subversion, but we're probably only about 6 weeks away from the time when Subversion is just as uncool as CVS. Ordinarily, I ignore threats to my coolness. Addressing them would distract me every 5 minutes. I can't sleep in 5 minute intervals. In this case it feels a lot like the time I ignored the 17 year old kid in my 1988 computer programming class for artists and slackers. ( lineTo(x,y) circle(centerX,centerY,radius), etc,etc ) He said I should learn what arrays were. There were only 2 weeks left in the class, I decided $A, $B,$C,$D,$E,$F...$Z was easier than $ray[1..24]. Later riding the grey dog from East Brunswick NJ to Chicago IL, I took the 10 hours to learn and was sorry I'd not take the time earlier. A big claim with all these 3rd generation distributed version control softwares ( git, mercurial, bzr, darcs) is that merging branches is super easy. --Supposedly, so easy that people can create branches instead of having write permissions to the main copy of the source code. Merging is so hard in CVS that I know at least one (tenured) CS professor who admitted failure at it merging in CVS. Over-simplifying my already imperfect understanding: A branch is somewhat like making a copy of a folder of Microsoft Word documents and letting two different people work on the two different folders. A merge is when you combine the two folders into one again and it all works. Since I've never merged a branch or talked at any length to anyone who has the whole things seems like voodoo but I want to be cool. This guy makes it seem so cool: # short page w/ link to more detail http://research.operationaldynamics.com/blogs/andrew/software/version-control/git-is-like-cvs.html Even though I don't really grok the whole thing, We're probably going to make the switch from cvs to bzr: http://bazaar-vcs.org/ It isn't as cool as git (see video) but... It does look like there is nice integration with bzr in http://launchpad.net/mvhub which we are now using for bug tracking anyway. Their focus is ease of use and architecture, rather than speed From the man page for bzr, it doesn't look horribly different than cvs ERIC B IN TOUCH As you recall from a previous status msg, (Mimi actually) gave Eric B a great goodbye party. The day before, yesterday we had a medium long phone conversation on mvhub improvements. He's signed up on launchpad and a member of the mvhub-dev group. He reports the past few weeks have past pleasantly on the cape. ANOTHER GOOFY AWARD Trying works better than not trying. A few months ago, I half finished the application for the Catlog for Philanthropy: http://www.catalogueforphilanthropy.org/ma/2007/index.html Since it was late, I was a bit depressed and they wanted me to jump through some huge hoop like printing out our online application and mailing it in, I figured "screw it". Eric B, took the time to redo the application (since I'd lost it) and submitted it. We won. We're in the catalog, which is a bit like winning "best in show" WORD DOMINATION (north shore expansion) Good news, We have a handshake to do http://mvhub.com on the north shore. If we keep the data up to date, we'll make $5.5K per year forever. Bad news, We need something working by October 01. This may be doable but I said yes from my gut not my mind. I haven't yet broken the job into sub tasks, added up the time for each sub task and multipled by my historical estimating error percentage. BUSINESS PLAN I've not worked on it for 3 weeks. Despite this lack (or perhaps because of it), we're still moving forward. Thanks to Karen Z and Jim G for keeping the momentum going. Jim asked an interesting question. "Do we want a whole plan, or just cash flow" I'm pretty sure the cash is a means to an end. (Otherwise we could all just work for IBM) DONATIONS Mike F does good work. The CSL board decided that we want to keep him on. We have money to pay him for 10 hours per week until the end of September. This works well with his school. If a few people pledge of $19.20 per week we can do this. Yes, paying Mike a wage is more important than paying me a salary. His work is good for us. The job is good for him. He likes to work. The job has more potential than flipping burgers. For one time donations, see: http://thecsl.org/go/donate/ To make a weekly or monthly pledge send me email, and I'll set it up so paypal sucks the money out of your credit card right after payday.