Contents: IT HAS BEEN (almost) A YEAR THE LAST VISTA UGLY POLITICS / MAKEUP PARTY THE LAST VISTA GOOD WORK PARTY SATURDAY JULY 23rd 2011 GOOGLE GIVES US MONEY WE'RE HIRING (interns) HOW THE FUND-RAISING IS GOING ALL BUT THESIS MEASUREMENTS AND GOALS hypocrisy. NEW UTEC IT GUY EGOTISTICAL BIT (why so long to write) IT HAS BEEN (almost) A YEAR The last status [*] message I can find was from 9:45pm on May 16th 2010 [*] http://thecsl.org/go/fake-blog/no-objectives.shtml Apparently the only thing I like less than keeping our supporters in touch with our work is asking them for money. Since we've gotten a matching grant from Google, I've suddenly found time to bring you up to date. I've also vacuumed the apartment and run the dishwasher. The later is apparently even more unusual than a status message. Three days in a row, Laura sincerely thanked me for running the dishwasher (1) time. Considering the simplicity of the task, this is a both embarrassing and motivating. (Who knew she was so easy to please?) I suppose I could claim my procrastination was structured: http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/ THE LAST VISTA UGLY POLITICS / MAKEUP PARTY The CTCVISTA project [*](now known as the transmission project) is done. So no more VISTAs for quite a while. [*] http://transmissionproject.org/legacy We were denied a VISTA the last year of the project's existence. I was a jerk about that. "I am a cornered rat" is an exact and representative quote from the series of unpleasant emails I sent. Our board president at the time, Karen Zgoda was firm with me and I stopped. I probably reminded Karen of one of her students whining about his grade. With the benefit of hindsight, 8 years of support from a grant expressly setup to provide support for only 1-3 years of support is pretty generous. I was a bit surprised to be invited to the good bye party. I was almost moved to tears by the the free beer. For heartless rat-killers, Belinda Rawlins [*] and Ben Sheldon [**] can certainly dish out the inspirational charity and forgiveness. [**] http://island94.org/ [*] http://www.bubblesinthethinktank.com/ They both said I wasn't the biggest jerk about the whole thing. After a brief moment of self-loathing (I can't even be good at being bad?), I was happy for that too. The high point of the evening was catching up with EB, our first outreach VISTA. He's (probably) getting married. He's still working on the maths and FORTRAN. I suspected he was a closet techie with antiquarian tastes when he was with us full-time. A slightly lower point in the evening was the wild dancing. (EB wouldn't dance with me) and searching the bar for the pieces of my phone scattered by the aforementioned dancing. I wouldn't have found the phone without help from FS and patience from ES. THE LAST VISTA GOOD WORK Our last VISTAs for the foreseeable future were CT, our 2nd outreach VISTA and LG, tech all the way. Four highlights of CT's term where. 1) Beating a pile of post-it notes and sandwich wrappers into a donor database. 2) Getting people to make monthly pledges 3) Organizing our first successful fund-raising event 4) Realizing that I annoyed her and finishing her term at another site. Four highlights of LG's term were: 1) Moving us to https://launchpad.net 2) A bunch of code: http://bit.ly/evtvk5 3) Some decent docs: http://thecsl.org/go/dev/ 4) Less drama than any other VISTA in 10 years LG wound up at Amazon Maybe, I was 5% responsible for the hookup. The guy posting the job & I had both worked for KK. PARTY SATURDAY JULY 23rd 2011 Fred [*] and his band [**], "Zoloff and the Mood Elevators" are playing a benefit for us at the 119Gallery [***] in Lowell, party starts 7pm Saturday. [*] http://www.cs.uml.edu/~fredm/ [**] http://bit.ly/gSJZhI [***] http://www.119gallery.org/ To the extent that an event with beer and chainsaws can be family friendly, children are welcome and will be admitted without charge. Admission for you and a date is free with a $500 donation. $10 or $20 otherwise (we haven't decided). A major goal will be to help our supporters understand what it was we do other than "computer stuff" and "occasionally drink too much". As you know, software engineering is a discipline closely related to party planning. The skills needed to keep the data flowing smoothly translate almost directly to making people feel welcome and entertained. GOOGLE GIVES US MONEY This year, we made the last round in the Goggle Summer Of Code application: http://www.google-melange.com/gsoc/homepage/google/gsoc2011 One person on the review committee wrote us personally to say that this person had pushed hard for our application, but was not able to win over the rest of the committee. A partial, but in context, **EXACT*** quote: "I really, really liked your application and your organization." After a few emails, I thanked our new friend and offered some evidence that my thanks weren't just sucking up: http://www.urbanministry.org/nonprofitdiversity Then I asked for a personal donation. The reply was that Google would match any donations we got toward our $5,000 goal. WE'RE HIRING (interns) So we almost certainly have money to pay (1) Student a reasonable wage for 12 weeks. With some generosity from you gentle reader, we can pay (2) students. The link to apply is: http://wiki.thecsl.org/mediawiki/index.php/Pseudo_GSOC So far we have (2) people with a good start on the process and a third smart person expressing interest. HOW THE FUND-RAISING IS GOING The board (mostly Jim & Andy) and I are just getting started. Pretty much everyone that has ever given us money or even said a kind word is going to get hit. Andy: http://www.facebook.com/brewdawakening ...has generously offered a free cup of coffee to anyone that meets me or Jim so we can ask you for money. Or you can just give us money: http://thecsl.org/go/donate/ So far, I'd say we had a very good shot at raising $2500 and getting one student and a reasonable shot at $5,000 and two students. I've working my way down the list of people who might give us $500-$1000 first. Mostly they've been people who once did excellent volunteer or VISTA work with us, are now making market rate as sys admins or software engineers and gave us money in the past. So far, the common reaction has been: "I'll give you $200 for old times sake, for more, I'll need convincing" Apparently people who deliver results are willing to require them of other people. Given that the rest of the dependency graph requires accountability, this isn't such a big deal. The Google Summer of Code student application is structured around creating a clear project proposal. Student payment requires meeting the proposal. The far greater number of people who we've worked with who decided they didn't like staying awake until 3:00am debugging or who came to work drunk and puked in the wastebasket or couldn't stay focused long enough to get a decent amount of work done, aren't such a juicy donor pool. In years to come, I'll probably spent most of my political capital arguing that we keep working with the less successful group. Again, Google will match anything we raise. http://thecsl.org/go/donate/ Don't feel you are safe if you gave us $20 once 7 years ago. It'll just take us a while longer to get to you. ALL BUT THESIS Both Karen and Felicia are all but (PhD) thesis, and both have had their proposals approved and have some progress on a draft. NEW UTEC IT GUY Josh Harding (tall red headed guy with tasteful tattoos) aka "Foosball Master" [*] is now the full time IT guy at http://utec-lowell.org/. I believe he was making more money collecting unemployment from his last for-profit job. [*] http://thecsl.org/go/fake-blog/000526.shtml As one of my part-time day jobs is at UTEC, Josh is my boss I did the right thing by turning the full time job down. Josh is doing a better job there than would I. MEASUREMENTS AND GOALS hypocrisy. If you remember from a year back, I've ranted a bit about the evil of setting goals or taking measurements. A couple people replied (politely) that I was full of crap. Seth puts it shortly and well: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/01/the-thing-about.html Goals and measurements are tools that can be used ineptly to make things worse or with a little thought to make things better. Think sawzall and bloody, flying fingers or sawzall and getting the job done twice as quickly. When I'm honest with myself, I admit that most of my small number of successes have been from working a plan. The small number of things I've succeeded at randomly without planning nag me though. EGOTISTICAL BIT (why so long to write) For strong people[*] there are only four answers: yes no no excuse I do not understand [*] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/26/books/chapters/chapter-unforgiving-minute.html I'm not one of those strong people, the best I can do is leave the most egotistical bits for last. Egotistical bits may be as awkward for me as for you (gentle reader). As bad as it is for sustainability, I'm the glue here, at least for now. In the past 10 years, when I've pulled down 16K per year, Laura and I stayed out of debt. In 2008 and 2009 I didn't do that. Throw in a few funerals and suddenly Laura's making some ugly credit card interest payments. This past year, I've been working a bunch of side jobs to catch up. My bosses are old comrades. My schedules are flexible. If this Google thing works out, (which depends a bit on you dear reader), these next few years, I'll slid into a rhythm of intense coding and "mentoring" (hah!) during the summer and part-time prep work during the year. I've done ok providing the doubtful benefit of my mentoring. Obviously, not so well with status reports. At this rate, it'll be September of 2013 before I'm clear and back to the CSL full-time. Time is going by quicker and quicker. Two years is nothing over the course of 20 years. (Given my habits and family history, I figure I'll be a good 'knowledge worker' at least until I hit 67) You are welcome to (re-)join me and the rest of the crew to the extent your circumstances permit. Thanks for reading. Feedback is welcome, especially witty rude feedback.