Sandra Davidson investigated how a person’s social identity affected their ability to recover from depression.
WE HAVE known for a long time that being socially isolated is bad for your mental health. Some of the most cruel and enduring punishments are about social isolation – banishment, exile and solitary confinement. So we know this instinctively, and it’s been used throughout history. But I was interested in finding from a more scientific approach what aspects of the social world were important for recovery from depression.
Straight Punch by Monique Polak
When Tessa gets caught leaving one too many graffiti tags, she finds herself kicked out of school and sent to "New Directions" a last-chance school for troubled teens with an impressive boxing program. Unfortunately, Tessa hates violence and isn't sure how she'll ever fit in given that most of the kids have situations much more dire than her own, but she's not getting out of this.
The backdrop of Montréal (a city with more than a little street art) works well for this coming of age story. I chose to read this while visiting the city, so the setting felt rich to me in ways that it might not have if I'd read it at another time. I was expecting more boxing out of Straight Punch, but actually the thing that struck me most about this were the moments you were seeing the world through Tessa's artist eyes.
I agree that it does feel a little "after school special with troubled teens" but the messages about standing up for what's right and what matters aren't any less true for having been told a thousand times. This book is perhaps better for teens than jaded adult readers, but it's still a nice little story about a teenager finding her inner strengths.
If anyone has been waiting for the code repository for PiDoorbell, the Raspberry Pi project we presented at PyCon a couple of weeks ago, at least part of it (the parts I wrote) is also available in my GitHub scripts repo, in the rpi subdirectory. It's licensed as GPLv2-or-later.
That includes the code that drives the HC-SR04 sonar rangefinder, and the script that takes photos and handles figuring out whether you have a USB camera or a Pi Camera module.
It doesn't include the Dropbox or Twilio code. For that I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the official PiDoorbell repo. I'm not clear what the holdup is on getting the repo opened up.
The camera script, piphoto.py, has changed quite a bit in the couple of weeks since PyCon. I've been working on a similar project that doesn't use the rangefinder, and relies only on the camera to detect motion, by measuring changes between the previous photo and the current one. I'm building a wildlife camera, and the rangefinder trick doesn't work well if there's a bird feeder already occupying the target range.
Of course, using motion detection means I'll get a lot of spurious photos of shadows, tree limbs bending in the wind and so forth. It'll be an interesting challenge seeing if I can make the code smart enough to handle that. Of course, I'll write about the project in much more detail once I have it working.
It looks like the biggest issue will be finding a decent camera I can control from a Pi. The Pi Camera module looked so appealing -- and it comes in a night version, with the IR filter removed, perfect for those coyote, rabbit and deer pictures! -- but sadly, it looks like its quality is so poor that it really isn't useful for much of anything. It's great for detecting what types of animals visit you (especially at night), but, sadly, no good for taking photos you'd actually want to display.
If anyone knows of a good camera that can be driven from Linux over USB -- perhaps a normal digital camera that supports the USB camera protocol? -- please let me know! My web searches so far haven't been very illuminating.
Meanwhile, I hope someone finds the rangefinder and camera driving software useful. And stay tuned for more detailed articles about my wildlife camera project!
A couple weeks ago I was in Montreal for PyCon 2014. It was an amazing conference, but I was also glad to have some time to explore the beautiful city that is Montreal.
On Thursday (2nd day of tutorials) I didn’t have anything scheduled conference-wise, so I met up with my friend and long time Ubuntu contributor John Chiazzese (IdleOne). We’ve worked together online on Ubuntu for several years, and even both lived in the same area at the same time at one point, but we never managed to meet. My love of zoos landed us at the Montreal Biodome, housed in a former Olympic building.
The Biodome takes you through 4 different environments where they have mini-ecosystems for each and animals that populate the zones. The lynx were a big draw for me:
The river otter was also quite adorable and looking for attention. I also quite enjoyed the monkeys! And the penguins!
One of the evenings after the conference I joined a few of my colleagues to see And Then There Was Light sound and like show at the Notre Dame Basilica, not far from the convention center.
As a fan of historical religious buildings, I was eager for my chance to walk around the basilica as a tourist. The “sound and light show” portion of the show was a bit cheesy, giving folks a history of the French colonists and the basilica itself, but we had fun. Afterwards, we had 15 minutes to walk around and take photos, hooray!
Once they had pulled up the curtains used during the show, the interior did not disappoint. The alter in particular was spectacular:
I was also exposed to a lot of great food in Montreal, only a fraction of which I could eat. I had unfortunately fallen ill just before my trip and was on a strict bland diet – no red meat, no alcohol, no fatty foods. In a city full of steakhouses, wine and cheese this was a special kind of torture, but it did allow me to explore the menus beyond what I might typically order (and I did cheat a bit with the cheese). I ate a lot of chicken, fish and vegetables.
I was fortunate to have decent walking weather during most of the trip, but as the event wound down I found the chilly weather coming back, I even hear that there were some flurries the day after I left. Montreal is great, but was nice to be on my way back to California when the snow returned!
More photos from my tourist adventures in Montreal here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157643982902633/
I used `ubuntu-bug` from the cli more than I ever have before, testing out the betas. It was an amazing experience to file the bug, and then see it fixed within the day! This happened again and again. The entire Ubuntu ecosystem really works well together. My thanks to those developers who read and respond to those bug reports.
What I love about Kubuntu is how everyone pitches in. All of us try to maintain balance in our lives, so that there is time for leisure and enrichment, along with work. Also, the work is fun, because the team enjoys one another, posting fun links, joking around, but continuing to work away on our todo lists. Even those who didn't have time for packaging, often stopped by the devel channel to find out what needed testing. It all helped!
Since I'm not a devel, all this was inspiring rather than exhausting. So I had the time and energy to spend time helping out folks with questions and trouble in #kubuntu and #kde. That felt great! We were able to answer most of the questions, and overcome most of the difficulties.
One issue that came up quite a few times in the last couple of days, was PPAs. On a clean install, of course all old PPAs are blown away. On an upgrade, however, they can linger and cause lots of perplexing problems. Official PPAs like backports are fine, but specialty ones should be removed before upgrading. If you need them, you can always re-add after the upgrade. For the same reason, unpin any packages you have pinned.
It is really fabulous to be able to present the latest KDE software into our Kubuntu LTS. This will give us the freedom to try out the newest stuff from KDE based on the sparkly new Frameworks, Plasma Next and so forth, in our next release. So, our users will be able to use software supported for five years if they want, while also having the option to install 14.10 (if all goes well) and check out the newest.
I'm back from Montreal, settling back in.
The PiDoorbell tutorial went well, in the end. Of course just about everything that could go wrong, did. The hard-wired ethernet connection we'd been promised didn't materialize, and there was no way to get the Raspberry Pis onto the conference wi-fi because it used browser authentication (it still baffles me why anyone still uses that! Browser authentication made sense in 2007 when lots of people only had 801.11g and couldn't do WPA; it makes absolutely zero sense now).
Anyway, lacking a sensible way to get everyone's Pis on the net, Deepa stepped as network engineer for the tutorial and hooked up the router she had brought to her laptop's wi-fi connection so the Pis could route through that.
Then we found we had too few SD cards. We didn't realize why until afterward: when we compared the attendee count to the sign-up list we'd gotten, we had quite a few more attendees than we'd planned for. We had a few extra SD cards, but not enough, so I and a couple of the other instructors/TAs had to loan out SD cards we'd brought for our own Pis. ("Now edit /etc/network/interfaces ... okay, pretend you didn't see that, that's the password for my home router, now delete that and change it to ...")
Then some of the SD cards turned out not to have been updated with the latest packages, Mac users couldn't find the drivers to run the serial cable, Windows users (or was it Macs?) had trouble setting static ethernet addresses so they could ssh to the Pi, all the problems we'd expected and a few we hadn't.
But despite all the problems, the TAs: Deepa (who was more like a co-presenter than a TA), Serpil, Lyz and Stuart, plus Rupa and I, were able to get everyone working. All the attendees got their LEDs blinking, their sonar rangefinders rangefinding, and the PiDoorbell script running. Many people brought cameras and got their Pis snapping pictures when the sensor registered someone in front of it. Time restrictions and network problems meant that most people didn't get the Dropbox and Twilio registration finished to get notifications sent to their phones, but that's okay -- we knew that was a long shot, and everybody got far enough that they can add the network notifications later if they want.
And the most important thing is that everybody looked like they were having a good time. We haven't seen the reviews (I'm not sure if PyCon shares reviews with the tutorial instructors; I hope so, but a lot of conferences don't) but I hope everybody had fun and felt like they got something out of it.
The rest of PyCon was excellent, too. I went to some great talks, got lots of ideas for new projects and packages I want to try, had fun meeting new people, and got to see a little of Montreal. And ate a lot of good food.
Now I'm back in the land of enchantment, with its crazy weather -- we've gone from snow to sun to cold breezes to HOT to threatening thunderstorm in the couple of days I've been back. Never a dull moment! I confess I'm missing those chocolate croissants for breakfast just a little bit. We still don't have internet: it's nearly 9 weeks since Comcast's first visit, and their latest prediction (which changes every time I talk to them) is a week from today.
But it's warm and sunny this morning, there's a white-crowned sparrow singing outside the window, and I've just seen our first hummingbird (a male -- I think it's a broad-tailed, but it'll take a while to be confident of IDs on all these new-to-me birds). PyCon was fun -- but it's nice to be home.
Tomorrow the next Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release comes out, 14.04, development code name Trusty Tahr. In preparation, I was putting together some materials for our release event next week and found myself looking for the Tahr artwork when I remembered that it was included in the installer. So now I’ll share it with you as well!
I haven’t found an svg version of this logo, but I’ll be sure to update this post if I do.
Thanks to Tom Macfarlane of Canonical for emailing me a copy of the svg version! You can get a copy here.
Looking for something slightly different? The Xubuntu team also included a tahr in our installer, created by Simon Steinbeiß:
This png has transparency, which make it show grey on white, but you can flavor it with any color you wish!
Enjoy! And happy release everyone!
As I mentioned in my post about the PiDoorbell workshop, this past week I attended my first PyCon in beautiful (if chilly) Montreal, QC. I did some touristing, but I’ll write about that once I have all my photos up…
But now, the conference!
It was the first conference I’ve attended where I volunteered to help out with the HP booth. I was worried that my role as an engineer on the OpenStack project would leave me completely unprepared to answer questions about HP specifically, but I was instead greeted with kinship among most folks who I spoke with as they could appreciate HP’s investment in open source (and Python). I was also pleased to learn that the guys from the local HP office who came to help out with the booth were also all engineers, focused on either network or printing. Having the actual engineers to helped design the hardware we had on display at the booth was really cool.
Plus, I’m sure it helped that we have a bunch of open Python, OpenStack and other cloud jobs, so plenty of folks were eager to hear about those.
I wasn’t at the booth all weekend, I attended all the keynotes and several talks throughout the event. I think my favorite talks ended up being Track memory leaks in Python by Victor Stinner, Subprocess to FFI: Memory, Performance, and Why You Shouldn’t Shell Out by Christine Spang and In Depth PDB by Nathan Yergler. Upon reflection this makes sense given my work in ops, I’m much more likely to be debugging Python code in my typical day than writing something, so the talks about tracking down problems and performance issues are right up my alley.
The keynotes all three days were great. On Sunday I was particularly struck by the conference gender diversity. In addition to having a reported 1/3 female speakers and attendees, all the leadership in the Python community seem genuinely dedicated to the issue. I’m so used to projects that are still arguing over whether a problem exists let alone taking solid, unapologetic steps to correct the cultural bias. So thank you Python community, for giving us an opportunity to catch up, it’s working!
And finally, since I can’t go anywhere anymore without getting pulled into an OpenStack event, I finally met Dana Bauer from Rackspace this week and she invited me to come help out with a short OpenStack workshop for women on Sunday morning from 10 until noon. The lab they had set up didn’t quite work out, but it gave attendees the opportunity to go in the direction they wanted to. I was able to help a bit here and there, and James E. Blair gave a mini-presentation to a few folks on how to get going with DevStack.
At lunch I was able to meet up with Tatiana Al-Chueyr to chat some about the contribution workflow for OpenStack, which is always a lot of fun for me.
I’m pretty much exhausted from all the socializing, but as always with these conferences it was great to meet up with and chat with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Thanks to everyone for such a fun week!
Tonight the weather started to turn chilly again, time to head home.
The release of Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) LTS is coming up on Thursday, April 17th!
To celebrate, the Ubuntu California team in San Francisco will be hosting an Ubuntu release party at AdRoll! Huge thanks to them for offering us space for this event.
AdRoll is located at 972 Mission Street in San Francisco. It’s within easy walking distance of the Powell Street BART and MUNI stations, which we recommend since parking can be expensive downtown.
Our party will be very casual with free pizza and drinks for attendees. But we do have planned…
- Mini presentation highlighting Ubuntu 14.04 features
- Laptops running various flavors of 14.04
- Tablets and phones running the latest Ubuntu build
- Ubuntu quiz, with prizes!
So if you’re in the area and would like to join us, please RSVP here:
Alternatively you can email me directly at email@example.com and I’ll get you added to the attendee list.
San Francisco isn’t the only active part of the state this release, San Diego is also hosting an event, on April 17th, details here. If you’re near Los Angeles, Nathan Haines is collaborating with the Orange County Linux Users Group (OCLUG) to do an installfest on Saturday May 24th, learn more here.
Not in California? Events are coming together all around the world, check out the LoCo Team Portal to see if there is an event being planned in your area: 14.04 Release Parties.
This week I had the opportunity to attend PyCon for the first time. Since beginning to use Python in my systems work so much last year, I’ve had increasing interest in participating in this conference in some capacity, so when the opportunity came around at work to staff the HP booth here in Montreal I was happy to volunteer.
I was also brought to PyCon to be a Teaching Assistant for the Build your own PiDoorbell ! – Learn Home Automation with Python with fellow CodeChix members Rupa Dachere, Akkana Peck, Deepa Karnad Dhurka, Serpil Bayraktar and Stuart Easson.
We spent several weeks preparing for this tutorial. I made the trek down to Palo Alto twice to attend mini-sprints so we could test out the instructions in person prior to the event. We were able to add a number of improvements to both the code and documentation through these events and worked out some of the logistical issues of doing such a hardware event at a conference venue.
The actual tutorial was held on Wednesday afternoon. Attendees quickly piled in and we were able to distribute our kits. Somehow we ended up with a few too many registrants but were able to scramble together a few extra pieces to make it work for everyone.
The tutorial was split into several sections, with the tutorial leads (Rupa and Akkana) giving presentations and us TAs going around and helping everyone with their setups when they got stuck. The biggest challenge for most was getting their system to talk to the Raspberry Pi, as we had folks on various operating systems with all kinds of network and USB setups.
Once we got everyone talking to the Pis, it was time for the fun stuff! Akkana gave a great presentation that was a tour of the hardware of the Raspberry Pi, including the setup of the GPIO pins configuration. For more about some cool hardware stuff she’s been doing with the Pi, I highly recommend her blog posts on the topic.
Then we had an led.py script to allow folks to make an LED blink:
As you can see, we’re using solderless breadboards so we didn’t have the complexity of soldering, thank goodness.
Then came the meat of the tutorial, wiring up the distance sensor (and camera if they had one) to actually detect when objects passed and take a photo. I brought along both my Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera Board – Infrared-sensitive Camera and my webcam from my desk at home so attendees could play around with them if they didn’t have ones of their own.
Surprisingly for a hardware tutorial with such a diversity of host systems, I’m happy to report that most of the students were able to get the tutorial fully completed – at least to the point of taking pictures, if not the upload and notification portion. It was a lot of work for us TAs as we ran around helping everyone and debugging serial and networking issues, but it was worth it to see how much fun everyone had when they finally got an LED to blink or took their first picture.
All of the slides and source code is freely licensed, but the repository hasn’t been made available yet as Rupa wanted to fix some important bugs first (can’t have people frying their Pis!). But never fear, I’ll be following up to make sure it’s made available as soon as possible so others can do this too!
I’ve uploaded more photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157643750475463/
I’ve had a very busy year so far talk-wise. Back in January I gave a handful of sysadmin focused talks at Linux.conf.au in Perth, Western Australia. In February I did similar at the Southern California Linux Expo. In May I’ll be drifting slightly away from a Linux-only crowd to present at LOPSA-East in New Brunswick, New Jersey on May 3rd.
First up on the schedule I’ll be doing my Code Review for Sys Admins talk:
I’m a member of the OpenStack Infrastructure team which is a geographically distributed team of systems administrators from several different companies who work together in public to maintain the infrastructure described at http://ci.openstack.org.
To achieve this, we use a code review system that leverages Gerrit as the interface for peer review and Jenkins to run some basic configuration and code syntax checking against our submissions. This allows us to maintain for code and config file integrity and gives us a nice platform so that our fellow systems administrators can comment on and improve solutions we come up with. We also use IRC, Etherpad and more for collaboration, which I will discuss.
I love giving this talk and I’m excited to be giving it at a conference focused at sysadmin-type folks in the industry.
But it gets better, they’ve also asked me to keynote on Saturday evening!
I’ve titled my talk Universal Design for Tech: Improving Gender Diversity in our Industry (thanks to Leigh Honeywell for the title idea):
Universal Design is a principle in accessibility that accessible design makes things better for everyone. A key example of which are curb cuts and door openers which help those who are disabled but also folks with luggage and parents with strollers.
Elizabeth will discuss ideas on how to improve gender diversity in our industry, but many of the tips will help everyone beyond improvements that come through diversity. From offering formal education for systems administration to offering flexible schedules and work arrangements, there are many things that can be done to attract much-needed talent.
As someone who has made it in the industry I’m keen on preserving the environment that I’ve grown and thrived in, but also in making small changes that I know would have helped me along the way and will help others, including women.
I also took some time to chat with Tom Limoncelli about my talk, which he’s posted on the Everything Sysadmin blog: Interview with LOPSA-East Keynote: Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph
Registration is still open for the conference and I hear there might even be some space at the hotel left (but it’s filling up fast!). Hope to see you there!
And we got our own hashtag on Instagram thanks to TrueAbility!
I-know-how-to-program wankery (get to the content already)
The launch of a new blog, which aims to chronicle crowdfunding campaigns for free software and related endeavours.
Notes on customising your Newsblur shared items page, intelligence training and the Android app.
I'm sure this has not been the best week for you. I have no idea whether or not you'll actually read this, but I'm writing it because it just felt like the right thing to do.
I read your interview, where you describe that you have "proven with science that gay marriage is improper", with a fair amount of dismay. I decided, instead of greeting the article with derision and ridicule, which has, unfortunately, been the prevalent reaction, to give you a bit of un-asked-for advice. I tend not to do this sort of thing, really (ask my friends.) But I seem compelled to, so I will.
You say you want to be the first African to win a Nobel Prize in science. That's quite an ambition, and a laudable one. And one that will take a prodigious amount of work and drive, and you seem to be on the way, at least in that department. But in the science department... not so much. Let me tell you a little bit about science, and, more particularly, since you seem to be focused on homosexual behavior and gay marriage, a little bit about the science of sexuality. I have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, if you're wondering about my ability to tell you about science.
Science is really more about asking questions, not "proving" already fully-formed ideas, like whether gay marriage is "proper". Scientists observe, measure, and form hypotheses, which are then tested. A hypothesis or theory is proven after a long while of many scientists working together over years. Asking whether gay marriage is "proper" using science is not appropriate. What is proper, anyway, in scientific terms? What does that actually mean? And marriage is a human construction, not a biological phenomenon.
If you are going to scientifically compare something, you need to use things that are, in some intrinsic way, similar. For instance, scientists often study the brains of rats to get clues to how human brains work. Those are somewhat similar things (They are, actually quite different, but similar enough to give clues and directions.) It doesn't make sense to use what goes on inside a tree for instance, to figure out what happens in our brains. They aren't alike enough. Even though trees have cells, like brains have cells, they are too different to really make any reasonable conclusions about the human brain based on the characteristics of a tree. You might well compare a maple tree to an oak tree.
You've gone even further than the tree-brain comparison. You are comparing human behavior, which very complexly influenced by biology, genetics, social context, and experience to ... a magnet? And acids and bases? Um, no. No can do. That isn't science. They share very little in common. Sure human cells have chemical reactions - that's an essential part of life. And some cells respond to magnetic charge (pigeons are thought to navigate using magnetic fields.)
So what would be similar? What would be a reasonable kind of comparison to make to human behavior? Well, how about the behavior of the primate genetically closest to us? Do you think that might make a reasonable comparison? Some people don't, and most of those reasons are, frankly, colored by social bias. That's the other thing about science. It is imperative (although very often ignored) that scientists look closely at their own social location and bias, and make sure that it isn't influencing the questions they ask, and the conclusions they draw. There have actually been many studies (one particular, relatively well-known example is actually in the realm of primate behavior,) where people went back to look at old studies and old conclusions, and found that they were badly influenced by the social biases that the original scientists had.
So what about those Bonobo chimpanzees, our closest cousins? You'd blush to read studies of their sexual behavior. In fact, let's just talk about sexual behavior of all animals. Know what? Homosexual behavior, from the occasional dalliance, to the lifetime pair-bonding, is found in 1,500 species of animals. That's a whole lot. I think it's kinda safe to say that at least when it comes to the behavior of the animal kingdom, homosexual behavior is indeed natural, given how often it occurs.
So here's the real advice: stop. Think about what you really want in your life. Do you really want to be a scientist? If you really want to be a scientist, then, get yourself a boatload of books by people like Stephen J. Gould, Carl Sagan, Neil Degrass-Tyson, Diane Fossey, Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose and Jane Goodall. Really. I'll even buy some for you, if you can't afford them.
And, let's get personal. Why is this such an important issue for you? Are you trying to prove something to yourself, after all? Have a look at that, will you? It will be fine. Really, it will be. You are loved exactly as you are.
...so they outsourced, for example, to Amazon Web Services (server + network administration).BZZZZT!!! Wrong!! You do not escape "server + network administration".
so we “dug up” some of the spuds… really we just tipped them out of the bag they were growing in.
worked really well – didn’t take up land (just left the bags leaning on a brick wall) and were easy to get out. Will do again
There’s something so very christmasey about new potatoes, freshly dug from your own garden.
Christmas was stinky hot all over the place — so we spent a chunk of christmas day in a swimming pool – had some fun with the water proof camera and a gopro.