Hello Kitty Crochet is a book I have coveted since I knew it existed, in part due to nostalgia as I remember getting little cute Japanese things on occasion as a kid, but also because it just looked like a fantastic set of amigurumi crochet patterns with lots of details and cute photos.
J’s parents were sweet enough to get me a copy for my birthday. So of course, the thing to do is to make the titular character and send her back with a thank you note! I have no idea what they’re ever going to do with a little Hello Kitty, but what has one ever done with Hello Kitty other than admire her, really?
Eventually, though, she got some more body parts:
The strange one there is the bow. I am quite sure that there’s an error in the book, because they have you doing 4 sc and then 3 sc in one, which would give you a total of 7 sc across… but then the next line says you should turn and do 9 sc plus another 3-in-one. Does not compute, Hello Kitty. Through looking at the pictures and some online research my best guess is that you’re not supposed to turn your work front to back but rather make an oval by crocheting around the other side of the original chain, so that’s what I wound up doing.
What you can’t see is that she has washers in her butt to make her a bit weighted and not top heavy. I debated putting a rare earth magnet in there too, but I couldn’t really think when that would be useful, so I went with just the washers.
Very kawaii, indeed. I’d originally intended to felt her, but once I got her features on I didn’t want to mess them up. Maybe next time!
If you don’t know how big that box is, it might be hard to tell how big she is. Here’s a shot with a ruler, although the one I have with the ruler up and down didn’t turn out so well, so you’ll have to guesstimate from the one where it’s beside her. She’s a little under 3in high.
Aside from the issue with the bow, I found the directions pretty clear. They’d be suitable for a crochet/amigurumi beginner if you’re eager to try her out. I can’t wait to try some of the other patterns in the collection!
I had the honor of participating in FOSSC Oman this February, which I wrote about here. Our gracious hosts were very accommodating to all of our needs, starting with arranging assistance at the airport and lodging at a nearby Holiday Inn.
The Holiday Inn was near the airport without much else around, so it was my first experience with a familiar property in a foreign land. It was familiar enough for me to be completely comfortable, but different enough to never let me forget that I was in a new, interesting place. In keeping with standards of the country, the hotel didn’t serve alcohol or pork, which was fine by me.
During my stay we had one afternoon and evening to visit the sights with some guides from the conference. Speakers and other guests convened at the hotel and boarded a bus which first took us to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Visiting hours for non-Muslims were in the morning, so we couldn’t go inside, but we did get to visit the outside gardens and take some pictures in front of the beautiful building.
From there we went to a downtown area of Muscat and were able to browse through some shops that seemed aimed at tourists and enjoy the harbor for a bit. Browsing the shops allowed me to identify some of the standard pieces I may want to purchase later, like the style of traditional incense burner. The harbor was quite enjoyable, a nice breeze coming in to take the edge off the hot days, which topped out around 90F while we were there (and it was their winter!).
We were next taken to Al Alam Palace, where the Sultan entertains guests. This was another outside only tour, but the walk through the plaza up to the palace and around was well worth the trip. There were also lit up mountainside structures visible from the palace which looked really stunning in the evening light.
That evening we headed up to the Shangri-La resort area on what seemed like the outskirts of Muscat. It was a whole resort complex, where we got to visit a beach before meeting up with other conference folks for a buffet dinner and musical entertainment for the evening.
I really enjoyed my time in Oman. It was safe, beautiful and in spite of being hot, the air conditioning in all the buildings made up for the time we spent outdoors, and the mornings and evenings were nice and cool. There was some apprehension as it was my first trip to the middle east and as a woman traveling alone, but I had no problems and everyone I worked with throughout the conference and or stay was professional, welcoming and treated me well. I’d love the opportunity to go back some day.
More photos from my trip here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157650553216248/
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.
Ever since I saw Valleyviolet’s Pony Pattern collections, I’ve wanted to make one. I finally bought the collection in order to make the Pink Fluffy Unicorn mascot for Quelab (who is apparently MIA right now, likely stolen by the same person who vandalized the room sign; much sadness. She was a lot of work!), but I didn’t want to jump right into fighting with fun fur, and I’m fortunate enough to know a little girl of around the right age to enjoy a pony, so…
I went with blue and stars not out of any particular reason other than I liked the way the two fabrics looked together. The recipient’s young and lives far away from me, so I don’t know much about her preferences yet! However, I *do* know that her mom’s a mathematician and that her dad would like me to be a science role model for her. So the pony came with a book:
The book, as you can’t quite see in that photo, is “The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős.” I was super excited when I first heard of it, as it’s a beautifully illustrated children’s book about a rather famous mathematician. One of the things he did was travel the world, collaborating with mathematicans all over the place. Mathematicians sometimes talk about their Erdős Number, which indicates degrees of collaborators on your published papers leading back to the man himself. (I published a paper with someone who’s number is 2, so mine is 3, a number worthy of bragging about at math parties!). My Calculus prof, an excellent storyteller, used to tell us tales of Erdős at the end of class sometime, and I was totally enchanted to hear more of them through the book. And the art works a lot of careful math and real people into the story, which is amazing. I also love that it doesn’t shy away from the fact that he was a man who couldn’t do his own laundry but helped do so much math that people were willing to welcome him into their homes.
I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve got a kid in your life who could use a gift!
It’s also a kind of funny pairing with this pony, as some folk have this theory that one of the My Little Ponies with somewhat similar colouring also really likes math. Not an intentional joke on my part, but I’ll take it!
So back to the pony construction…
Much like how representations of humans can have an uncanny valley effect if things are close but a little off, my experience is that this is a pattern that can go kind of horribly wrong if you don’t pay attention to the details. I originally sewed her head on in a weird way and was totally disappointed with the end result. I wasn’t even going to give it to V, it was so awful. I didn’t even take pictures (which is a shame in hindsight because the comparison was so striking). But after ruminating a while, I tried again, and with her nose tipped up just so, she got the curious look I was hoping for.
Valleyviolet’s instructions are very detailed and clear, and there’s a lot of work put into the shaping that really shows in the final product. There’s also just a lot of thought put into the instructions. I’ve actually never worked with a pattern that was so careful about explaining things, and I’ve got to say the patterns are worth every penny as a result. You can can buy her pony patterns here, and I promise you can make much more polished ponies than I did!
I think when I do my next one, I’ll have to be a bit more careful about marking the notches and just generally careful about the stitching. I also need to invest in some heavier weighting for her legs since, as you can see, she doesn’t quite keep all four feet on the floor sometimes. (This was right after she came out of my suitcase from my flight to Ottawa, though, so I can’t blame her for looking a bit disheveled!)
I don’t know how much the recipient cared for the pony, and to be honest she’s a bit young for the book yet, so I didn’t win any gift giving awards here, but it was fun to do and I really loved the pattern.
I think I’m going to try out the shoulder pony pattern next, once I find some suitable beanbag filling!
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: curlftpfs#user:email@example.com/ /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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This month, I joined a yarn subscription club that No One Talks About on the Internet. So of course, I’m going to talk about it on the internet. I hope I’m not breaking some unspoken rule by telling you about it. Oh heck, who am I kidding? I’ll probably be pleased if I broke some rule. Knowledge for all!
First, though, let’s back up to how I wound up joining this club. I’ve been intrigued for a while by the idea of yarn subscriptions.
On the plus side:
+ Surprise yarn!
+ Trying new things!
+ Learning about new dyers and mills and whatever!
+ Getting some patterns to inspire me!
+ And having enough yarn to complete the projects!
But on the down side:
– Most of the boxes are moderately expensive. Around $40/month is pretty normal, and you can pay much more.
– … so if you hate what you get, you’re going feel like you’ve wasted a lot of money
– I don’t think I actually use 2+ skeins of yarn every month, so it’s going to start to pile up
Knitcrate has 6 subscription types, ranging from $22.50 for 5 minis/month to $65/month for indie yarns. Likely subscription for me would have been $55 for an intermediate/advanced box.
Yarnbox: $35.95/month, more for the luxe version (presumably)
There are lots of others, but those were the two that came up the most.
In the course of doing some research about options, I encountered Yarn of the Month, which sends out little teensy yarn samples instead of full skeins. Because it’s only a taste of yarn rather than a full meal, it rings in as a $9.25/month subscription (less if you get a few months at once). That hits that sweet spot on subscription boxes for me, where it’s easy to write off a bad month and won’t result in rapidly growing pile of stuff in my life. I’d miss out on some of the advantages, in exchange I’d basically wipe out all the disadvantages I listed, and instead miss out on extras that fancier boxes throw in. (That’s actually kind of a shame because I haven’t been knitting long enough to acquire a lot of the small tools that show up as extras!)
What finally pushed me to the decision brink was the assertion that you’d be able to do little 5 inch swatches from your teeny yarn balls, and put them together to have a blanket at the end of the year. So it wouldn’t even be a pile of craft clutter when I was done admiring them, and I’d be motivated to actually *use* the yarn. Awesome!
The problem is, I couldn’t find pictures of the yarn, the swatches, or even many people talking about this club. It was a giant social media void. I could find pictures for yarnbox, pictures for knitcrate, pictures for random yarn of the month clubs on etsy… but only a few forum stale threads for Yarn of the Month.
What to do? I contemplated for a bit, then figured I could afford to try it out and see what happened. But in the interest of helping others, I was darned well going to post some pictures when (if?) I actually got a shipment!
So here’s a review. Hopefully the lack of posts about the yarn is a lack of social media marketing rather than a sign that I have paid money into some sort of mysterious yarn cult that will be upset at this breach of unspoken social etiquette.
I guess February was kind of red themed for valentine’s day.
Not pictured: the February Socks pattern from Birgitte Zeuner and instructions for 3 square swatches. Frankly, they’re printed on thin US letter paper and just not that attractive as a photography subject after being mooshed through the mail. Totally legible, but I might have invested in stiffer paper if I were running YOTM.
February Socks by Birgitte Zeuner
The February Socks pattern looks cute enough. I would have liked better pictures, but obviously I can find them on Ravelry so that works out.
Unfortunately, having just finished my first pair of adult socks, I’m not actually that excited about starting another one, so I think this is getting shelved indefinitely. I’m going to have to find a binder I can put these in! Maybe I’ll find a friend who’s super excited about this and I can pass it on, though.
“Luxurious with a delicate bloom”
6.5 sts/inch on US 2
50% Merino Superwash 20% Angora 30% Nylon
462 yds Color: 102
This is soft and lovely in the ball as one would expect for Angora, and quite pleasant to knit with. It’s not fluffy and doesn’t seem to shed (ask me about my experience knitting pure angora bunny fur sometime) but instead just results in beautifully soft yarn. It’s tightly wound enough that it doesn’t split on those little size 2 needles, and it held up to some unknitting as I tried to end my swatch as close to the end of the ball as possible and mis-calculated.
It’s not the easiest thing to photograph since it is subtly fluffy and catches the light a lot, but that’s only annoying for the purposes of this post and not in general. (Actually, I’d totally be into anti-photography yarn… I should work on that with some retroreflective stuff.)
The swatch pattern provided uses double-wrapped knitting stitches, a technique I hadn’t tried but a video tutorial wasn’t too hard to find. I actually usually prefer non-video tutorials, but this one is short and clear. You put the needle through as if to knit then wrap the yarn twice instead of once around and knit those, leaving two loops on. then when you come across it in the next few rows, you don’t bother trying to keep those doubled but instead slip stitch through them, leaving you with one longer stitch floating over the fabric.
The finished piece is super soft and pretty light. I suspect it'd be pretty warm, but it's hard to tell with just a swatch!
“Soft and yummy with great stitch definition”
7 sts/inch on US 0
50% Merino Superwash 25% Nylon 25% Rayon from Bamboo
230 yds Color: 203
This one feels great in the ball, all silky smooth, but I found it actually a bit odd to work with. While I’m knitting it, it has that sort of squeaky/roughish feel that I associate with some acrylics, even though the finished piece feels nice.
I’m thinking that I might see if I can incorporate this into the hem of a baby sweater in the near future. I’m not sure I’d buy this yarn, though. It wasn’t hard to work with and it does as promised have great stitch definition, but with so many yarns in the world “feels a little weird to knit” is enough to drop it off my personal to-buy list. I’ve never knit with bamboo before so I don’t know if that’s a function of the fiber or if I just didn’t love this particular blend, but I suspect the latter so maybe I’ll try some other bamboo blends out.
And finally here is is, blocking on my chair, so you can see the repeats better:
The finished, blocked piece is smooth and very light, so it might be a great for summer knits. To be honest, I like the stitch pattern best when it’s a single row, but the swatch was still fun to do!
“Beautiful, subtle sheen and drape”
7 sts/inch on US 2
55% Fine Merino 25% Nylon 20% Silk
440 yds Color: 305
Silk blend yarn is one of my favourite treats for myself. I’m not sure that the stitch pattern really showed off the drape at all, though:
It’s kind of a bumpy rib pattern with twisted stitches. It’s quite dense and doesn’t drape at all! What’s neat about this pattern is that it’s very reversible and feels completely different on both sides.
The smooth side is where this yarn really appeals, since it’s got that little bit of silky slippery-ness.
I would strongly consider using this to replace ribbing on worn items like sweaters and mitts, since I like the look of the one side and the feel of the other.
The one thing that this pattern does show off is the yarn’s stitch definition:
Overall, I liked working with this yarn a fair bit: it’s soft, easy to work with, doesn’t snag too much, and the results are reasonably striking. I do wish I had a way to see if I actually like the drape, but I enjoyed the swatch pattern so much that it’s hard to really mind.
So in conclusion…
Do I still want a fancier, more expensive, larger yarn subscription?
Heck yeah, they sound lovely. But while I can afford more, this seems like a good balance of price and quantity for me. I think I’ll aim to spend money in my local yarn stores (there are so many here!) rather than risking it on a larger subscription at the moment.
Am I happy with this month’s box?
Heck yeah! I *loved* making the swatches. I’d never done any of those stitch patterns before, and I’m glad to add to my repertoire. And I’m glad to have tried all the yarns, although I’m not sure I’d run out and buy more of any of them unless I had a specific project in mind. But I really like having samples of them all so I can tell if they *would* fit a given project.
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.
Maker in the making gets a whole new meaning now :) http://t.co/VlMS4dvdRN—
Sulamita Garcia (@sulagarcia) September 28, 2014
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 need a smart tshirt that auto-update every week #50%loaded #intelmaker http://t.co/6AnkR4bnjV—
Sulamita Garcia (@sulagarcia) October 19, 2014
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.
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
Parking for two @intel :D http://t.co/hoCTGllD2o—
Sulamita Garcia (@sulagarcia) January 14, 2015
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?
Filed under: Uncategorized
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.
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).
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: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157650553205488/
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.
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.
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.
This entry was originally posted at http://bokunenjin.dreamwidth.org/59634.html.
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.
Yes the Southern California Linux Expo is almost here!
February 19-22, 2015 @ the LAX Hilton!!!!
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!
Here are some more fun pics of LinuxChix LA from SCaLE 12x
to get you excited about attending SCaLE 13x!!!
SCaLE 12x LinuxChix LA Booth Setup!
And . . . a not so high quality video of our LinuxChix LA Booth Setup @ SCaLE 12x
(Taken with my preview Firefox OS ZTE Open Phone!)
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)...
This entry was originally posted at http://nilasae.dreamwidth.org/199613.html.
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://freenode.org/#wikimedia-research 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.
With OWOOT closing, the OWOOT list will no longer be available to volunteers organising the Haecksen miniconference at linux.conf.au.
If you're interested in helping out with Haecksen in future years, please join the new Haecksen organisers mailing list hosted by Linux Australia.