Thu, 1970-01-01 00:00

To boldly go…

Renata - Fri, 2015-02-27 22:12


Leonard Nimoy has died today. I don’t remember how old I was when I first watched my very first Star Trek episode – I was too young. I just remember watching The Original Series reruns after coming back from school in the afternoon, to the point I knew every episode by heart. I grew up in the 80s and the first movie I had the chance to catch in a theatre was Star Trek V – which is not my favourite – but by that time I was already a trekkie, and dressed in black pants and red shirt to attend such an important event.

My thing had always been science and logic and I loved Spock above all. I wanted to be like him – it’s a fairly decent role model for a kid. So I exceeded in sciences and mathematics while in school, and here I am today, working in technology, because someone someday made an interesting character who was a science officer – and I really liked him. Dear Nimoy, you were damn good at convincing people to tech, since people from NASA have also been inspired by you.

I’m not the kind of person to feel touched by the death of celebrities, but considering the role Star Trek and Spock have played in my professional career, I have some feelings today. His artistic persona will be missed, his character will be missed.


Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Tips for developing on a web host that offers only FTP

Akkana Peck - Tue, 2015-02-24 02:46

Generally, when I work on a website, I maintain a local copy of all the files. Ideally, I use version control (git, svn or whatever), but failing that, I use rsync over ssh to keep my files in sync with the web server's files.

But I'm helping with a local nonprofit's website, and the cheap web hosting plan they chose doesn't offer ssh, just ftp.

While I have to question the wisdom of an ISP that insists that its customers use insecure ftp rather than a secure encrypted protocol, that's their problem. My problem is how to keep my files in sync with theirs. And the other folks working on the website aren't developers and are very resistant to the idea of using any version control system, so I have to be careful to check for changed files before modifying anything.

In web searches, I haven't found much written about reasonable workflows on an ftp-only web host. I struggled a lot with scripts calling ncftp or lftp. But then I discovered curftpfs, which makes things much easier.

I put a line in /etc/fstab like this: /servername fuse rw,allow_other,noauto,user 0 0

Then all I have to do is type mount /servername and the ftp connection is made automagically. From then on, I can treat it like a (very slow and somewhat limited) filesystem.

For instance, if I want to rsync, I can rsync -avn --size-only /servername/subdir/ ~/servername/subdir/ for any particular subdirectory I want to check. A few things to know about this:

  1. I have to use --size-only because timestamps aren't reliable. I'm not sure whether this is a problem with the ftp protocol, or whether this particular ISP's server has problems with its dates. I suspect it's a problem inherent in ftp, because if I ls -l, I see things like this: -rw-rw---- 1 root root 7651 Feb 23 2015 guide-geo.php -rw-rw---- 1 root root 1801 Feb 14 17:16 guide-header.php -rw-rw---- 1 root root 8738 Feb 23 2015 guide-table.php Note that a file modified a week ago shows a modification time, but files modified today show only a day and year, not a time. I'm not sure what to make of this.
  2. Note the -n flag. I don't automatically rsync from the server to my local directory, because if I have any local changes newer than what's on the server they'd be overwritten. So I check the diffs by hand with tkdiff or meld before copying.
  3. It's important to rsync only the specific directories you're working on. You really don't want to see how long it takes to get the full file tree of a web server recursively over ftp.

How do you change and update files? It is possible to edit the files on the curlftpfs filesystem directly. But at least with emacs, it's incredibly slow: emacs likes to check file modification dates whenever you change anything, and that requires an ftp round-trip so it could be ten or twenty seconds before anything you type actually makes it into the file, with even longer delays any time you save.

So instead, I edit my local copy, and when I'm ready to push to the server, I cp filename /servername/path/to/filename.

Of course, I have aliases and shell functions to make all of this easier to type, especially the long pathnames: I can't rely on autocompletion like I usually would, because autocompleting a file or directory name on /servername requires an ftp round-trip to ls the remote directory.

Oh, and version control? I use a local git repository. Just because the other people working on the website don't want version control is no reason I can't have a record of my own changes.

None of this is as satisfactory as a nice git or svn repository and a good ssh connection. But it's a lot better than struggling with ftp clients every time you need to test a file.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Things I learn from travelling while pregnant

Sulamita Garcia - Mon, 2015-02-23 11:05


I became pregnant last year, after much consideration about becoming a mother. It was surprisingly easy considering everything they say about getting pregnant after 35 years old. At the same time, my job was in one of those years where it takes me everywhere, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it to begin with :) Carrying a growing belly and teaching about IoT and Galileo and Edison was great fun, but also great learning. So, in case you find yourself in the same situation, here’s some tips:

It is not for everyone

First of all, it is not for everyone. Many people like to say “it’s not a disability” – that’s only partially true. From my perspective, it wasn’t an easy ride. From the perspective of some people I know, my ride was a piece of cake. I know of two women that lost several kilos, that ended up a week in a hospital, or having to spend months in bed, otherwise they would miscarry. So comparing to this, my smells aversion and tiredness seem very easy. So please do not take my experience as a measure for what any pregnant woman can do – it doesn’t work like this.

Eat your 5 a day! And always have a water bottle nearby

When you are in the first trimester, especially if it’s your first time, most likely you will get those well known symptoms: nausea, food and smells aversion. My symptoms kicked in when I was only a few weeks, during 2nd month. I was traveling to England for a residential school, and after the long walks through the campus proved to be too much for me, I was allocated in a dorm that was very close to the classes and activities. However, that building probably has not seen its carpet deep cleaned for a decade. And my nose picked it up. And being England, they had that effing carpet even in the elevator. And there was nothing I could do about it. But the food also triggered my stomach problems, endless heartburn and disgust by the unappealing boiled vegetables. No wonder people have problems eating their 5 a day!

So the first rule is: good, healthy food is essential. People who travel a lot know how much better it gets when you eat well, balanced meals, and drink plenty of water. If you are pregnant, it makes the total difference between being a functional human being or some sluggish resemblance of yourself. Make smart choices, don’t be afraid of being picky and demanding. Only you will know the price you will pay for not giving your body all the rest and nutrients it needs. And it is really for you to function, because guess what? Your baby will be just great. He or she will deplete you of all your vitamins and reserves, because that’s what pregnancy does. Of course you want a healthy baby and should do everything you can to ensure it, but pregnancy makes sure everything goes to the embryo first, and you have the leftovers. So really, pack your fruits and veggies, chose some good carbs – you need them to think! – and keep a water bottle always in hand.

Tell everyone you are pregnant

I was lucky in my first big travel commitment, to conduct a hackathon in Paris. The agency organizing it for Intel was extremely sensitive to my needs, and I got fruits, iced tea, water, people carrying my bag. But they knew I was pregnant. In another event, in Berlin, most people assumed I was just obese. I even got someone pitching me a project about a chair that would give electrical shocks to people who didn’t move around too much and that would be a good incentive for me, after I mentioned that it was getting harder to get of the sofa. Soon afterwards, someone else asked me if I could help moving a table. So, next day I was wearing my “Baby loading t-shirt” just to make things clear. Also, remember that dorm close to the classes during my study week in England? It was granted after I had a very scary moment when I began to bleed a bit during second day at school. I could have been nothing, it could have been the long distance between the original dorm and the classes having an effect, but have I told them upfront, maybe I had avoided the deeply scary moments I spent unsure if it was something serious. So, if you are like me, you may think it’s not worth the trouble to mention, you don’t want people to think you want special treatment. But, the other option may be really detrimental to you, so, balancing things out, you are best out telling people upfront you are pregnant, just so they are aware. Most people I met were wonderful and understanding and helping me to be more comfortable than I could think I could be.

Tips for reducing bloating

Bloating has always been a big problem for me while traveling. I normally bloat up to 2kg just by flying, and it was even worse during pregnancy. I use to measure how bad it was by checking if I could see my ankle bone or not. After a flight, even a short one, it was sure that I wouldn’t have ankles, foot and legs would be all a continuity. But I learned a secret a long time ago by a masseuse: soak your foot, preferable all legs, into a hot bath, immediately followed by a cold stream of water. It is so challenging, but after a few hours, I could see my ankle again. But soon that wasn’t enough, so compression tights it was. Oh my god, trying to pull compression tights up your legs maneuvering around a rotund belly was the most ridicule situation I remember myself on.  So many huffs and puffs that I wanted to give up every time, but the thought of normal legs by the end of the day kept me going.

Recovering takes forever

Another thing it was surprising for me was how long would take me to recover from each travel. Like, if you only travel 1h, it would barely count, right? Wrong! Every time it would take days of oversleeping and slowing down to recover. Granted, most of the travels also involved long working hours, which was interesting. During the hackathons, I wouldn’t feel much tired, as I believe the adrenaline would kick in and keep me going. But after I was done, oh my gosh I was so done. And even travel just for vacations would get me exhausted. So I started planning everything to allow a couple of day of rest after any travel.


34 weeks pregnant

I kept doing Pilates, mostly because my awesome instructor and great friend Sabine kept telling me it would get better sooner if I didn’t stop. And I felt towards stopping because very very early on the pregnancy, I went from being advanced to a total beginner in class. I could barely do the moves, feeling clumsy and without the control of my core muscles – just like that, from one week to another. The reason is that the hormones flooding your pregnant body make your muscles soft, so working out would barely maintain them, but they would not get stronger. Sabine promised me that once I am done with nursing, all the muscles would resume to the state I left them. Let’s see. But even without being able to perform as well as before, just the general feeling of stretching, reaching out, even if you can reach less and less, makes you feel great after the exercise. You will be more tired, so prepare to go to bed even earlier, but your back will appreciate. Here in Germany Yoga for Pregnants is really popular for the same reasons. I also did a few pathetic swimming sessions, but after 6 months, it is just wonderful to be floating in water where your belly is so much lighter. Midwives will also say that the more you move, the easier will be your delivery. I wasn’t that active, don’t take me as an example, I did mostly only once a week, while they recommend you to at least walk 15 min a day. But I hope the up and down the stairs at home and work will count for something. That is, until a limit. I reached my at 36 weeks, while most women will reach that at 32, according to Sabine (although she did until 38, cheeky fit lady :)). When you reach that limit, you will know it. If the exercise makes you feel uncomfortable in your belly, you are done, from now on is more sofa than yoga mat.

Live in a developed country and work for a great company

And here is where I feel really bad for women living in countries not as understanding as Germany, or working for companies less sympathetic than Intel. My working from home hours increased proportionally as the pain in my back after spending time in the office. And due German laws, 6 weeks before my due date, I was on leave. I remember the two last days in the office, which were very difficult due lack of elevator and many things to check, to leave everything taken care of. The pain later at night when I tried to find a position to sleep almost got me into the hospital, as I was suspicious I was in labor. But it was just my huge belly tired of being sustained all day long. And this was 6 weeks prior. What about women who have to work until delivery date? They are just super heroes…

Do one thing at the time, and slow down

I always have been the kind of person who tries to do everything at the same time right now. I am still relearning how to do one thing at the time and slowly. It is for the best. I have heard before about the constant sleepiness and just general feeling tired, but I didn’t know my IQ would seem to drop. It takes more time for me to absorb information, to make decisions, to plan and execute. I would beat myself up to be back on track if I wasn’t so tired. So, slow down it was. I wonder if I will continue to be like that after sometime. No idea. Any guesses?

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Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

FOSSC Oman 2015

Elizabeth Krumbach - Mon, 2015-02-23 02:15

This past week I had the honor of speaking at FOSSC Oman 2015 in Muscat, following an invitation last fall from Professor Hadj Bourdoucen and the organizing team. Prior to my trip I was able to meet up with 2013 speaker Cat Allman who gave me invaluable tips about visiting the country, but above all made me really excited to visit the middle east for the first time and meet the extraordinary people putting on the conference.

Some of the speakers and organizers meet on Tuesday, from left: Wolfgang F. Finke, Matthias Stürmer, Khalil Al Maawali, me and Hadj Bourdoucen

My first observation was that the conference staff really went out of their way to be welcoming to all the speakers, welcoming us at the hotel the day before the conference, making sure all our needs were met. My second was that the conference was that it was really well planned and funded. They did a wonderful job finding a diverse speaker list (both topic and gender-wise) from around the world. I was really happy to learn that the conference was also quite open and free to attend, so there were participants from other nearby companies, universities and colleges. I’ll also note that there were more women at this conference than I’ve ever seen at an open source conference, at least half the audience, perhaps slightly more.

The conference itself began on Wednesday morning with several introductions and welcome speeches from officials of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and Professor Hadj Bourdoucen who gave the opening FOSSC 2015 speech. These introductions were all in Arabic and we were all given headsets for live translations into English.

The first formal talk of the conference was Patrick Sinz on “FOSS as a motor for entrepreneurship and job creation.” In this talk he really spoke to the heart of why the trend has been leaning toward open source, with companies tired of being beholden to vendors for features, being surprised by changes in contracts, and the general freedom of not needing “permission” to alter the software that’s running your business, or your country. After a break, his talk was followed by one by Jan Wildeboer titled “Open is default.” He covered a lot in his talk, first talking about how 80% of most software stacks can easily be shared between companies without harming any competitive advantage, since everyone needs all the basics of hardware interaction, basic user interaction and more, thus making use of open source for this 80% an obvious choice. He also talked about open standards and how important it is to innovation that they exist. While on the topic of innovation he noted that instead of trying to make copies of proprietary offerings, open source is now leading innovation in many areas of technology, and has been for the past 5 years.

My talk came up right after Jan’s, and with a topic of “Building a Career in FOSS” it nicely worked into things that Patrick and Jan had just said before me. In this world of companies who need developers for features and where they’re paying good money for deployment of open source, there are a lot of jobs cropping up in the open source space. My talk gave a tour of some of the types of reasons one may contribute (aside from money, there’s passion for openness, recognition, and opportunity to work with contributors from around the world), types of ways to get involved (aside from programming, people are paid for deployments, documentation, support and more) and companies to aim for when looking to find a job working on open source (fully open source, open source core, open source division of a larger company). Slides from my talk are available here (pdf).

Directly following my talk, I participated in a panel with Patrick, Jan and Matthias (who I’d met the previous day) where we talked about some more general issues in the open source career space, including how language barriers can impact contributions, how the high profile open source security issues of 2014 have impacted the industry and some of the biggest mistakes developers make regarding software licenses.

The afternoon began with a talk by Hassan Al-Lawati on the “FOSS Initiative in Oman, Facts and Challenges” where he outlined the work they’ve been doing in their multi-year plan to promote the use and adoption of FOSS inside of Oman. Initiatives began with awareness campaigns to familiarize people with the idea of open source software, development of training material and programs, in addition to existing certificate programs in the industry, and the deployment of Open Source Labs where classes on and development of open source can be promoted. He talked about some of the further future plans including more advanced training. He wrapped up his talk by discussing some of the challenges, including continued fears about open source by established technologists and IT managers working with proprietary software and in general less historical demand for using open source solutions. Flavia Marzano spoke next on “The role and opportunities of FOSS in Public Administrations” where she drew upon her 15 years of experience working in the public sector in Italy to promote open source solutions. Her core points centered around the importance of the releasing of data by governments in open formats and the value of laws that make government organizations consider FOSS solutions, if not compel them. She also stressed that business leaders need to understand the value of using open source software, even if they themselves aren’t the ones who will get the read the source code, it’s important that someone in your organization can. Afternoon sessions wrapped up with a panel on open source in government, which talked about how cost is often not a motivator and that much of the work with governments is not a technical issue, but a political one.

FOSS in Government panel: David Hurley, Hassan Al-Lawati, Ali Al Shidhani and Flavia Marzano

The conference wrapped up with lunch around 2:30PM and then we all headed back to our hotels before an evening out, which I’ll talk more about in an upcoming post about my tourist fun in Muscat.

Thursday began a bit earlier than Wednesday, with the bus picking us up at the hotel at 7:45AM and first talks beginning at 8:30AM.

Matthias Stürmer kicked off the day with a talk on “Digital sustainability of open source communities” where he outlined characteristics of healthy open source communities. He first talked about the characteristics that defined digital sustainability, including transparency and lack of legal or policy restrictions. The characteristics of healthy open source communities included:

  • Good governance
  • Heterogeneous community (various motivations, organizations involved)
  • Nonprofit foundation (doing marketing)
  • Ecosystem of commercial service providers
  • Opportunity for users to get things done

It was a really valuable presentation, and his observations were similar to mine when it comes to healthy communities, particularly as they grow. His slides are pretty thorough with main points clearly defined and are up on slideshare here.

After his presentation, several of us speakers were whisked off to have a meeting with the Vice-chancellor of SQU to talk about some of the work that’s been done locally to promote open source education, adoption and training. Can’t say I was particularly useful at this session, lacking experience with formal public sector migration plans, but it was certainly interesting for me to participate in.

I then met up with Khalil for another adventure, over to Middle East College to give a short open source presentation to students in an introductory Linux class. The class met in one of the beautiful Open Source Labs that Hassan had mentioned in his talk, it was a real delight to go to one. It was also fascinating to see that the vast majority of the class was made up of women, with only a handful of men – quite the opposite from what I’m used to! My presentation quickly covered the basics of open source, the work I’ve done both as a paid and volunteer contributor, examples of some types of open source projects (different size, structure and volunteer to paid ratios) and common motivations for companies and individuals to get involved. The session concluded with a great Q&A session, followed by a bunch of pictures and chats with students. Slides from my talk are here (pdf).

Khalil and me at the OSL at MEC

My day wound down back at SQU by attending the paper sessions that concluded the conference and then lunch with my fellow speakers.

Now for some goodies!

There is a YouTube video of each day up, so you can skim through it along with the schedule to find specific talks:

There was also press at the conference, so you can see one release published on Zawya: FOSSC-Oman Kicks Off; Forum Focuses on FOSS Opportunities and Communities and an article by the Oman Tribune: Conference on open source software begins at SQU.

And more of my photos from the conference are here:

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Finding core dump files

Akkana Peck - Thu, 2015-02-19 19:54

Someone on the SVLUG list posted about a shell script he'd written to find core dumps.

It sounded like a simple task -- just locate core | grep -w core, right? I mean, any sensible packager avoids naming files or directories "core" for just that reason, don't they?

But not so: turns out in the modern world, insane numbers of software projects include directories called "core", including projects that are developed primarily on Linux so you'd think they would avoid it ... even the kernel. On my system, locate core | grep -w core | wc -l returned 13641 filenames.

Okay, so clearly that isn't working. I had to agree with the SVLUG poster that using "file" to find out which files were actual core dumps is now the only reliable way to do it. The output looks like this:

$ file core
core: ELF 32-bit LSB core file Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), too many program headers (375)

The poster was using a shell script, but I was fairly sure it could be done in a single shell pipeline. Let's see: you need to run locate to find any files with 'core" in the name.

Then you pipe it through grep to make sure the filename is actually core: since locate gives you a full pathname, like /lib/modules/3.14-2-686-pae/kernel/drivers/edac/edac_core.ko or /lib/modules/3.14-2-686-pae/kernel/drivers/memstick/core, you want lines where only the final component is core -- so core has a slash before it and an end-of-line (in grep that's denoted by a dollar sign, $) after it. So grep '/core$' should do it.

Then take the output of that locate | grep and run file on it, and pipe the output of that file command through grep to find the lines that include the phrase 'core file'.

That gives you lines like

/home/akkana/geology/NorCal/pinnaclesGIS/core: ELF 32-bit LSB core file Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), too many program headers (523)

But those lines are long and all you really need are the filenames; so pass it through sed to get rid of anything to the right of "core" followed by a colon.

Here's the final command: file `locate core | grep '/core$'` | grep 'core file' | sed 's/core:.*//'

On my system that gave me 11 files, and they were all really core dumps. I deleted them all.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Week 5: What Do You Really Want to Do With Your Life?

Erica Douglass - Thu, 2015-02-19 17:52

I haven’t posted in a few weeks, though, as you’re about to find out, I have a really good reason for that! Also in this post, I share with you a (somewhat embarrassing) story about how I figured out what I really wanted to do most in my life.

My boyfriend, John, owns a retail store called 1Up Repairs. He fixes cell phones, Xboxes, PS3s, and computers for a living. I’ve been helping him out with it for the past few weeks, and it’s been an eye-opening experience, as you’re about to find out.

For the entire time I’ve known John, his store has been located in a rather industrial, seedy part of town. It made sense to him when he started — he wasn’t sure the idea would work, so he wanted the cheapest rent possible while he tested it.

I helped him review his financials, and was impressed by the amount of business he was doing despite being located in a bad area of town. He had built up a steady stream of loyal customers, with over 40 positive reviews on Yelp and Google (and 0 negative reviews!)

John had realistically hit the limit of the number of people who were willing to drive to his side of town to get their cell phone fixed, and needed to secure a better location in order to grow. In December, we entered talks to secure a location right across from the University of Texas-Austin campus. There was a real dearth of cell phone repair shops there, and with the combination of college students without cars and a large amount of foot traffic, I thought the location was a winner.

It took us two months of negotiations to finally sign the lease; we moved in February 1:

1Up Repairs
John and I in front of our store, 1Up Repairs, during opening week.

I’ve learned a huge amount since I helped him move in here. One thing I’ve never done before is retail. I worked in a restaurant when I was 15, but I also found a work-from-home job doing SEO (search engine optimization) that year. By the time I was 16 and could drive, I had secured a job doing web development for a design firm.

That was in 1998, and I’ve been in web dev, marketing consulting, and running tech companies ever since. Retail, as anyone who’s worked in it or run a retail store will tell you, is an entirely different beast from the type of entrepreneurship I’m accustomed to.

At the end of the day, any business comes down to serving your customers, and that’s what John does well. Great customer service wins the day no matter what business you’re running. I learned that running my hosting company — we only had one negative review in the entire 6 years I ran that business. I applied that philosophy here and found myself happily serving customers in a retail environment, fixing computers, running the register, and answering all sorts of random technical questions. (Actual question I got today: “I want to get an iPhone, but I can’t take the battery out, and the government is going to track me if I leave it in. Can you rig an iPhone so I can take the battery out?” Yep, welcome to retail!)

I was surprised to find out I enjoyed helping John with his retail store. John and I share a passion for making sure the customer is happy first and foremost. We’re also both driven and motivated workers, so we work well together. That’s not to say we don’t ever fight — we both have years of experience running businesses, and we’re both smart, opinionated and stubborn, so we’ll verbally spar on occasion. But over time, we’ll balance back out into remembering why we’re here (to serve customers and make them happy), and we’ll make the decision that best serves our customers.

An Embarrassing Story Serves as a Catalyst

I promised you with this post that I’d share how to find out what you really want to do with your life. The best way to do that is with a story from my personal life. Even though that story is a bit embarrassing, I’ll share it with you anyway, because it has a good lesson in it. Here goes:

Last year, I was on a plane headed from LA to Austin on Southwest. I hate being stuck in the back of the plane, so I always buy the “automatic check-in” upgrade so I can board first.

I got on the plane and sat right at the front — yay! Next to me was a guy in a suit who was reading on his phone. When I sat down, we picked up a casual conversation. He revealed that he was an investment banker, and was scouting for series B or later-stage startups to invest in.

He asked me what I did, and I said “I’m a startup founder.” The words were barely out of mouth when my brain turned on me. “Your company failed a few months ago!” it said. “What are you doing?

The words had come out of my mouth before I had a chance to think about them at all. I knew that the startups he invested in were way later-stage than mine had been, so I wasn’t trying to “make an impression” on him.

The conversation eventually trailed off as we got in the air, giving me ample time to think about why I had said that when my startup didn’t exist any more. And then it hit me, with a gigantic THUD:

Running a startup was what I most wanted to do!

I had said I was a startup founder because that’s what I wanted to be. That’s what I was, but mine failed. And right then I knew I was going to try it again, that I wasn’t going to be a coach forever, that I was happy I’d tried some other things like coaching and consulting, but that being a founder was where I was going to be happiest.

A feeling of relief swept over me like a tidal wave then. Now, I want you to think about what you’d really say to someone in a completely unedited, spur-of-the-moment manner when they ask you what you do. What would you say there?

Stop editing yourself. Release all your fears and all that junk that’s built up around that question and just answer it with a free conscience. What do you do?

What do you do?

I’m a startup founder. Nice to meet you.

The Business Idea We’re Pursuing

As we were negotiating our new office in December, John told me about a product idea he had, based on running his own store, that we can sell to other retailers. (And no, it’s not a point-of-sale system–but it’s another thing all retailers need!)

I talked the business idea over with some people I trusted, and I received an unbelievably positive response. I’ll be honest — it’s a way more positive response than I ever got around the marketing software we sold with my last company! So I told John I’d build a prototype.

I’ll be sharing more about this idea soon. It’s patentable, so John’s asked me to keep it under wraps while we work with a patent attorney to secure provisional patents on it. Once we’re able to secure our intellectual property (patents and trademarks) and to build a prototype, I’ll share in detail what we’re building and why.

In the meantime, I’m running a retail store with John.

Why Not Just Hire Someone?

There’s a story that’s stuck with me for nearly a year now. Last year, at the Female Founders Conference hosted by Y Combinator, Adora Cheung of Homejoy got up on stage. Homejoy is a cleaning company, and for several months, Adora worked as a janitor, commuting insane hours to clean for a pittance while continuing to build Homejoy on the side. Why would she do this? She felt strongly she needed to understand the business inside and out in order to build a business in that space.

I didn’t set out with the intention to run a retail store. Other people (and maybe even the “me” of a few years ago!) might say it’s a waste of time to be answering phones, manning a counter, handling a cash drawer and credit cards, and answering questions about broken phone screens all day, when we could easily hire someone to do the same. But if I’m going to start a company that sells product to retailers, what better experience could I ask for than actually running a retail store? The empathy I’ll gain for our customers is massive. I’ll understand them in a way I never could have before.

So, to Adora and all the other startup founders who took a leap off a cliff and dove enthusiastically into low-paying jobs to better understand their customers, this one’s for you.

I’d better get back to work. I’m sure there will be a customer coming in soon!

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The post Week 5: What Do You Really Want to Do With Your Life? appeared first on Starting Your Own Business with Erica Douglass.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

a tale of two vegan vanilla ice creams

Katie - Mon, 2015-02-16 20:12
It's 9°F/-13°C outside now, with a wind chill of -3°F/-19°C, and a snowstorm's coming tonight. Perfect weather for ice cream!

In my last ice cream post, I described making a decent soy-based chocolate vegan ice cream. There are various approaches when it comes to vegan ice cream bases, and I wanted to try some of the others. How to Make Great Vegan Ice Cream makes a convincing argument that coconut cream-and-milk makes the creamiest base for vegan ice cream, so I found some coconut cream at my local H-Mart and tried out Max Falkowitz's Foolproof Vegan Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream recipe to bring to a weekly dinner night among friends.

nut-based vegan vanilla "ice cream"As I mentioned in that last post, coconut products don't agree with my vegan sweetie, so I made a second vegan vanilla ice cream to bring, this time exploring the world of nut bases. Primal Palate's Vanilla Cashew Ice Cream recipe uses almond milk and soaked-and-pureed cashews for a base. It uses maple syrup as a sweetener, and golden raisins as... well, I don't know. It doesn't use enough of them to affect the flavor or the texture. ::shrugs:: If I made it again, I'd skip 'em.

At the aforementioned dinner night, I arrived just as the people already there were finishing dinner, so I opened my container of coconut-based ice cream, set out an ice cream scoop, and grabbed myself some dinner. By the time I was finished, the coconut-based ice cream was no more. Reports confirmed my impression from the licks I'd gotten off the churning paddle: it indeed creamy, with a detectable but not cloying coconut undertone. People loved it. One person asked for the recipe. Since it was consumed so quickly I don't have a photograph for you, but I'll definitely be making this one again, it's just a matter of choosing a flavor.

Next I opened up the nut-based ice cream. The texture wasn't creamy or even scoopable, but grainy and crumbly. The few of us who tried it agreed that it had a pleasant, subtle nutty flavor, so how much you enjoy it probably depends on how important you consider a creamy texture to your frozen dessert experience. It's important to me, so I wouldn't make this again for myself, though of course I'd make it again for others who don't mind the texture. I wonder whether a consumer-grade food processor just can't make a smooth cream out of whole nuts no matter how long you keep it going. If I find any coconut-free vegan ice cream recipes based on nut butter (without bananas, which I personally dislike) I'd try them, but nut-based ice creams may need a binding agent in addition to a smoother base in order to get a good texture.

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Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

The Sangre de Cristos wish you a Happy Valentine's Day

Akkana Peck - Sat, 2015-02-14 22:01

[Snow hearts on the Sangre de Cristo mountains]

The snow is melting fast in the lovely sunny weather we've been having; but there's still enough snow on the Sangre de Cristos to see the dual snow hearts on the slopes of Thompson Peak above Santa Fe, wishing everyone for miles around a happy Valentine's Day.

Dave and I are celebrating for a different reason: yesterday was our 1-year anniversary of moving to New Mexico. No regrets yet! Even after a tough dirty work session clearing dead sage from the yard.

So Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Even if you don't put much stock in commercial Hallmark holidays. As I heard someone say yesterday, "Valentine's day is coming up, and you know what that means. That's right: absolutely nothing!"

But never mind what you may think about the holiday -- you just go ahead and have a happy day anyway, y'hear? Look at whatever pretty scenery you have near you; and be sure to enjoy some good chocolate.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Wrap up of the San Francisco Ubuntu Global Jam at Gandi

Elizabeth Krumbach - Wed, 2015-02-11 04:26

This past Sunday I hosted an Ubuntu Global Jam at the Gandi office here in downtown San Francisco. Given the temporal proximity to a lot of travel, I’ve had to juggle a lot to make this happen, a fair amount of work goes into an event like this, from logistics of getting venue, food and drinks, and giveaways to the actual prep for the event and actually telling people about it. In this case we were working on Quality Assurance for Xubuntu (and a little Lubuntu on a PPC Mac).

It’s totally worth it though, so I present to you the full list of prep, should you wish to do a QA event in your region:

  • Secure venue: Completed in December (thanks AJ at Gandi!).
  • Secure refreshments funding: Completed in January via the Ubuntu donations funding.
  • Create LoCo Team Portal event and start sharing it everywhere (social media, friendly mailing lists for locals who may be interested). Do this for weeks!
  • Prepare goodies. I had leftover pens and stickers from a previous event. I then met up with Mark Sobell earlier in the week to have him sign copies of A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux, 4th Edition we received from the publisher (thank you Mark and Prentice Hall!).
  • Collect and stage all the stuff you’re bringing.
  • Print out test cases, since it can be tricky to juggle reading the test case while also navigating the actual test on their laptop.
  • Also print out signs for the doors at the venue.
  • Tour venue and have final chat with your host about what you need (plates, cups and utensils? power? wifi? projector?).
  • Send out last minute email to attendees as a reminder and in case of any last minute info.
  • Make sure dietary requirements of attendees are met. I did go with pizza for this event, but I made sure to go with a pizzeria that offered gluten free options and I prepared a gluten free salad (which people ate!).
  • Download and burn/copy the daily ISOs as soon as they come out on the day of the event, and put them on USB sticks or discs as needed: Xubuntu went on USB sticks, Lubuntu for PPC went on a CD-R (alternate) and DVD-R (desktop, currently oversized).
  • Bring along any extra laptops you have so folks who don’t bring one or have trouble doing testing on theirs can participate
  • Make penguin-shaped cookies (this one may be optional).

With all of this completed, I think the event went pretty smoothly. My Ubuntu California team mates James Ouyang and Christian Einfeldt met me at my condo nearby to help me carry over everything. AJ met us upon arrival and we were able to get quickly set up.

I had planned on doing a short presentation to give folks a tour of the ISO Tracker but the flow of attendees made it such that I could get the experienced attendees off and running pretty quick (some had used the tracker before) and by the time they were starting we had some newcomers joining us who I was able to guide one-on-one.

I did a lot of running around, but attendees were able to help out each other too, and it was a huge help to bring along some extra laptops. I was also surprised to see that another PPC Mac showed up at the event! I thought the one I brought would be the only one that would be used for Lubuntu. Later in the event we were joined by some folks who came over after the nearby BerkeleyLUG meeting wrapped up at 3PM, and caused us to push the event a full hour later than expected (thanks to AJ for putting up with us for another hour!).

Prior to the event, I had worried some about attendance, but throughout the event we had about 12 people total come and go, which was the perfect amount for me and a couple of other Ubuntu Members to manage so that attendees didn’t feel ignored as they worked through their tests. Post event, I’ve been able to provide some feedback to the Ubuntu Quality team about some snafus we encountered while doing testing. Hopefully these can be fixed next time around so other teams don’t run into the same issues we did.

Aside from some of the hiccups with the trackers, I received really positive feedback from attendees. Looking forward to doing this again in the future!

More photos from the event available here:

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Get your Game On @ the LinuxChix LA Booth @ SCaLE 13x!!!!

Los Angeles Chapter - Fri, 2015-02-06 03:35


Yes the Southern California Linux Expo is almost here!

February 19-22, 2015 @ the LAX Hilton!!!!

Steam_tux--Jill'sRED02!_Big & Brighter--Transparent_Background

Get Your Game On @ the LinuxChix LA Booth #32!

In Celebration of Gaming on Linux and SCaLE: The Next Generation we will be demonstrating Gaming On Linux for Kids and Kids at <3

For a small donation we will have a raffle for a Linux LED Keyboard, an LED Gaming Mouse and Linux Gaming Mouse pad :-)

And come by and take a spin of our Wheel O’ Swag, if you dare ;-)

And in LinuxChix LA tradition we will have a Tux filled goody for the kids!

Come by and visit us and if you would

like to help, contact us by signing up to our

mailing list on this page!

LinuxChix LA getting their Game On @ SCALE 12x!

LinuxChix LA @ SCaLE 12x!!!!!!


Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

SCaLE 13x is coming!!!!!

Los Angeles Chapter - Wed, 2015-01-28 06:19


Here are some more fun pics of LinuxChix LA from SCaLE 12x

to get you excited about attending SCaLE 13x!!!

PRE_2014-02-22-103940 PRE_2014-02-22-104152 PRE_2014-02-22-105024 PRE_2014-02-22-105037 PRE_2014-02-22-105122 PRE_2014-02-22-105210 PRE_2014-02-22-110309 PRE_2014-02-22-110319 PRE_2014-02-22-110327 PRE_2014-02-22-110605 PRE_2014-02-22-112117 PRE_2014-02-22-112127 PRE_2014-02-22-112130 PRE_2014-02-22-112137 PRE_2014-02-22-112850 PRE_2014-02-22-112856 PRE_2014-02-22-112906 PRE_2014-02-22-113357 PRE_2014-02-22-153626 PRE_2014-02-22-153851

SCaLE 12x LinuxChix LA Booth Setup!

IMG_0004 IMG_0006 IMG_0007 IMG_0010 IMG_0011

And . . . a not so high quality video of our LinuxChix LA Booth Setup @ SCaLE 12x ;-)

(Taken with my preview Firefox OS ZTE Open Phone!)

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

LAST CALL - Christmas Cards!

Gina Feichtinger - Wed, 2014-12-03 16:11
Since a lot of people seem to get into the mood for Christmas it might be a good time for this...
I can't promise I'll manage to write them all but I'd still like to try and send out Christmas cards again this year. The cards will possibly be of the traditional variety so if you don't care for those you can skip this post.
If you'd like to receive a card (again, no promise I'll be able to make it) please comment with your name/address (will be screened) - even if you think I got your address.
If you'd like to send us a Christmas card you're very welcome to do so but don't feel obliged! Our address is available on request via comment/e-mail if you're not sure you have the right one (if you have the ZIP code 1230 then it is)...

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Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Make a Birthday Card for Mom in Linux With Scribus

Carla Schroder (O'Reilly articles) - Sun, 2014-10-12 16:15
A good project for getting familiar with Scribus is to create a cheery greeting card. Let's say we have a nice color printer and some good card stock, and we're making Mom a birthday card. Moms love photos of their kids, so find a nice one of yourself. Open Scribus, click the New Document tab, and set your page size and orientation (figure 2). My example is US Letter, landscape, two-sided.
Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Assorted Fun Linux Command Line Hacks

Carla Schroder (O'Reilly articles) - Thu, 2014-10-09 17:15
Today's fun command line festivities are inspired by Command Line Magic, who hangs out on Twitter sharing excellent Linux command line incantations for all occasions. Today's assortment includes shell rainbows, Is the Internet on Fire?, Star Wars Traceroute, and creating annoying sounds from the console.
Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Wikimania London

Finne Boonen - Sun, 2014-09-28 12:56

Wikimania in London this year was huge, bigger then any of the previous Wikimania’s I’ve been too. (So, excluding DC & Hong Kong). The amount of people made it easy to get lost but it also meant there was a lot of options in content which is a big plus if you’re not big on GLAM or (gender) diversity.

After two-three years of pretty much anything *wiki* hiatus the WMN scholarship that I got and the geographic proximity tipped the balance towards going to Wikimania once more. As a result of the hiatus Wikimania this Wikimania was about the most non-committed one I’ve been too since Frankfurt. Which made for an interesting contrast. For me this Wikimania compared most to Boston, many non-incrowd people and many people on the fringes of the wider Wiki world but who are interested because it’s Wikipedia (and it’s close by).

Luckily there were several people that I’d met before who introduced me to near-future project that would catch my interest (Next years European hackathon, November Amsterdam hackathon). But in some ways it felt like the first Wikimania I ever attended where I felt lost and very confused on how I could get involved with anything beyond editing articles.

I’m going to hang out in irc:// and work on some pet projects (editor retention) once I hand in my masters thesis so that’s at least one personal goal for Wikimania achieved.

I managed to miss Lieven Scheire’s act but I hope to catch him at the Dutch wikiconference on nov 1st.





Categories: LinuxChix bloggers
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