Mark Turner : Wake judge rules against teen facing off against NC on climate change | News & Observer

November 28, 2015 02:52 AM

News and Observer reporter Anne Blythe wrote a follow-up story on Judge Morgan ruling against Hallie’s climate change petition case. Perfectionist that she is, Hallie was really nervous about how she thought her interview went but was pleased with the final result.

I was also glad that Anne’s story mentioned the outrageous attacks some have launched against our daughter and her efforts. Hallie could truly care less about them and Kelly and I find them sad. I really only mentioned them here in my blog because I think these folks really don’t understand how this makes them look. I’m sure their parents taught them manners, so they would certainly be above spewing hate towards a kid.

The truth is that Hallie is a tough, determined young woman posessing more self-confidence than many adults. She can handle herself just fine. And besides, when you pick a fight with a kid you’ve pretty much already lost, right?

Hallie Turner, the 13-year-old girl who took North Carolina to court over climate change, received disappointing news the day before Thanksgiving.

A Wake County Superior Court judge ruled against her effort to overturn a December 2014 decision by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission.

But with the pluck of a teen wise beyond her years, Hallie said Friday the ruling from Judge Mike Morgan had not deterred her.

“It’s an issue that I’m always going to continue trying to make a difference in,” Hallie said during a phone interview. “There’s lots of next steps that can be taken.”

Hallie, an eighth-grader at Ligon Middle School who has been marching and rallying against global warming since the 4th grade, is one of a number of teens taking their states and politicians to court over climate change.

Source: Wake judge rules against teen facing off against NC on climate change | News & Observer

Mark Turner : Fun with a green screen

November 28, 2015 01:36 AM

Travis's green screen setup. Lights are helpful but not necessary.

Travis’s green screen setup. Lights are helpful but not necessary.

Since the office was officially working a half-day Wednesday due to it being the day before Thanksgiving, I decided not to make the monotonous one-mile commute into the office and instead worked from home. Being geographically dispersed, my team meets daily via videoconference and I decided I was done with putting the walls of our spare bedroom on display for my coworkers to see.

The day before a holiday called for something a little more whimsical, so I hatched a plan. I found some free software for the Mac called CamTwist that can do chroma key. Chroma key is the “green screen” technique that TV studios use to insert backgrounds behind their reporters and presenters. A few years ago our son, Travis, got a green cloth that makes a decent green screen. I borrowed his green cloth, set it up behind my office desk, fired up CamTwist, and displayed a holiday-appropriate scene behind me of wild turkeys in the woods. My coworkers loved it!

Travis's green screen takes him to Hogwarts and beyond.

Travis’s green screen takes him to Hogwarts and beyond.

Once Travis saw what I had done we set it up for him to use. His laptop is a Windows machine, so CamTwist gave way to other free software called Open Broadcaster. Soon he was onscreen, flying a broomstick over the grounds of Hogwartz, as happy as he could be.

It made me realize that anyone with a computer, web camera, and twenty bucks worth of green fabric could set up their own studio where they can create their own amazing scenes. Bring the Seven Wonders of the World into your living room. Ride a dinosaur. Drive the Indy 500. Any photo (or video!) you can drag off the Internet, you can place behind you on your green screen. Weather too rainy to take your kid to the park? A green screen lets you bring the park to her! It’s better than any jungle gym!

My home office beats your home office

My home office beats your home office

When I was a kid, the best my brothers and I could do was make hokey movies with our dad’s 8mm home movie camera (and forget about editing). Kids today now have Hollywood-quality moving-making tools right on their tablets. Adding a green screen and a free program like Open Broadcaster or ManyCam (for Windows) or CamTwist (for Mac) opens up a world of creative opportunities.

Mark Turner : Thanksgiving at sea

November 26, 2015 06:01 PM

It was Thanksgiving in 1991, a time near the end of my tour aboard the USS Elliot (DD-967). We were nearing the end of our three-month Persian Gulf deployment, bored nearly shitless with endless tacking around the warm bathtub known as the Persian Gulf. I was on the far side of the world from my home, sick of looking at skies that were either hazy with desert heat and sand or blackened with the smoke from still-burning fires in Iraq’s oil fields. It seemed the end of my enlistment couldn’t get here fast enough.

In spite of my homesickness, in spite of the boredom of the Gulf, in spite of all the griping I could have been doing that day, I knew down on the mess decks awaited a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ham, stuffing, and the works. I was healthy and fit and (like my shipmates) took great cooks, air conditioning and my bed with me everywhere I deployed.

Uncle Sam was taking pretty good care of me, all in all. I really couldn’t complain, especially as the news told of people suffering elsewhere in the world. It was then that I whipped out my checkbook and wrote a fat check to a charity. It seemed like the right thing to do.

I don’t share this to brag about how charitable I am. I share it for the benefit of those who might be feeling bad for the men and women out serving today. Uncle Sam takes pretty good care of our servicemembers. It could always do better, of course, but everyone who dons the uniform knows their obligations and that of their country. Each has made an agreement.

In a perfect world we would not need a military. We would not need courageous Americans standing watch on Thanksgiving or any other day. Until the day we get that perfect world, though, rest assured that our men and women in uniform have it under control. They’ve got this. It’s what they agreed to do. They’re very highly trained and good at their jobs.

Your thanks is appreciated but not needed. If you want to show your true appreciation, though, urging your political representatives to provide better care for our veterans would be a good place to start. That, or finding some way you yourself can serve our community and world.

Mark Turner : Judge rules against Hallie in climate change petition case

November 26, 2015 05:01 PM

We got word yesterday from Hallie’s legal team that Judge Michael Morgan has ruled against her request to have her petition heard by the Environmental Management Commission. While this is disappointing, it is by no means the end of her environmental activism. We do not have all of the details yet as the ruling has yet to be completed but we expect to have more details after the first week of December.

Mark Turner : A Bold Future that Wasn’t: the NS Savannah

November 26, 2015 04:44 PM

NS Savannah

NS Savannah (Photo by Maritime Park Association)

Behold the future.

The NS Savannah was the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. She steamed for over 400,000 miles from 1962 to 1970 as the flagship of President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative, but her operational costs, meager cargo capacity, and the extensive training required of the crews doomed her. She now resides at Pier 13 in Baltimore awaiting the removal of her reactor and can be toured upon request.

This site gives you a virtual-reality look at this forgotten engineering and design masterpiece. It’s a walk back in time to the more hopeful, futuristic outlook of the late 1950s. I’d love to see it in person (and it can be done by following the instructions in this FAQ list).

Welcome to the Nuclear Ship Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship.

Savannah was a signature element of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. She was constructed as a joint project of the former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Maritime Administration. She operated from 1962 to 1965 in experimental service, at which time the AEC issued her commercial operating license number NS-1. Savannah continued in demonstration service as a cargo ship until 1970 when she ended her active career. She was defueled in 1971 and her reactor made permanently inoperable in 1975-76. About 95% of the power plant is intact and remains onboard ship. Savannah is still licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC is the successor to the AEC), and will remain so until nuclear decommissioning.

Source: NS Savannah – Virtual Tour

Tarus Balog : 2015 Open Source Monitoring Conference

November 21, 2015 04:18 PM

Once again I got to visit the wonderful town of Nürnberg, Germany, for the Open Source Monitoring Conference.

OSMC - Badge

Hosted by Netways, the conference started out ten years ago as a Nagios conference. The name was changed due to an issue with the Nagios trademark, but it still focused heavily on Nagios. However, the organizers are pretty open to all things monitoring, so they started inviting projects like Zabbix and OpenNMS to come. When the Nagios fork Icinga was created, the amount of Nagios content dropped considerably, and out of 24 talks over 2 days there were only two that had Nagios in the title. Part of this has to do with Icinga 2 being a total rewrite and thus has started to move past its Nagios roots.

This year it was a cornucopia of monitoring choices. In addition to Icinga, Zabbix and OpenNMS, there was Alyvix, Assimilation, Heroic, and Prometheus. Grafana was popular and most tools are adding support for that data visualization tool, and it was nice to see talks on NSClient++ and MQTT. A little less than half the talks were in German, so there is a large German focus to the conference, but there was always an English-language talk available as well.

Nürnberg is a cool town. There is a big castle and lots of walls are left over from the original fortifications for the city. It is also home to SuSE Linux, and I made sure to swing by if just to get a picture for Bryan Lunduke:

OSMC - SuSE Office

Ronny and I got there on Monday. While the main conference is held over two days, this year there were workshops on Monday and a “hack-a-thon” on Thursday. The conference pretty much takes over the Holiday Inn, City Center, hotel. While the facilities are nice, it is right next to the city’s “eros center” which seems to creep closer and closer to the hotel each year I attend. It doesn’t impact the conference in any way, and those who might be sensitive to such things can easily avoid it.

There is always lavish catering and this year we had a nice, small crowd of OpenNMS enthusiasts in attendance, and we met up for the hosted dinner on Monday night. I had not seen some of the people since the OUCE, so it was nice to catch up.

My talk was on Tuesday, the first day of the main conference. The event was sold out, with about 250 people, and at times the rooms could get quite full.

OSMC - Crowd

The talks were all rather good. Torkel Ödegaard talked about Grafana:

OSMC - Grafana

which was a big hit with crowd, and as I mentioned before a lot of projects are leveraging his work to provide better data visualization, including OpenNMS. My talk went well (I think) as I went over all of the amazing things we’ve done since last year at the OSMC, which included four major releases of our application. I was stumped with the question “How do I get started with OpenNMS?” when I realized that I didn’t have an easy answer. I can tell you how to install it, but that doesn’t get you started. I need to work on that.

That evening we returned to Terminal 90, which is an odd place to hold a dinner but it seems to work. Terminal 90 is a restaurant located at the Nürmberg airport, and it does a good job of holding everyone. We have to take the U-bahn to get there, and at least this year there were no incidents (last year someone tried to hold open the doors, which caused the autonomous train to shut down and wait for human intervention).

OSMC - Terminal 90

The food and drinks were good, and toward the end of the evening they had woman impersonating German pop star Helene Fischer, which was lost on me but the crowd seemed to enjoy it.

I called it a night fairly early, but this is a group that tends to hang out until the wee hours of the morning. Although my room was on the first floor, I didn’t hear much noise from “Checkpoint Jenny” across the street, so maybe everyone is getting more mellow in their old age. (grin)

The second day featured a number of talks from different projects. Usually the Zabbix talk is done by Rihards Olups, but he was unable to make it this year so Wolfgang Alper did the honors.

OSMC - Zabbix

After that was a really good talk by Martin Parm on how Spotify monitors its music service.

OSMC - Spotify

It started out with all of the tools they tried that failed, and I kept thinking to myself “don’t let it be OpenNMS, don’t let it be OpenNMS” (it wasn’t) and ended with a tool they wrote in-house called Heroic. It is a time-series data store built on top of Cassandra, and it looks a lot like the Newts tool we built. Both are open source and Apache-licensed so I’m hoping to find some synergy between the two projects. There is another large music streaming service that uses OpenNMS, but maybe we can get all of them (grin).

OSMC - Prometheus

Then there was a talk by Fabian Reinhartz on a monitoring system called Prometheus. I had to joke that the name refers to the daily experience of most network managers of having their liver eaten out, but it seems like an interesting tool. Written in Go, it may find resistance from users due to the configuration being more like writing code, but that also makes it powerful. Sounds familiar to me.

I had to leave right after lunch in order to be ready to catch my flight home, but I really enjoyed my time there, even more than usual. Many thanks to Bernd Erk and the Netways gang for holding it, and they should be posting the videos soon. If you are interested in next year be sure to register early as it is likely to sell out again.

Magnus Hedemark : NaNoWriMo 2015: Strolling to the Finish Line

November 19, 2015 12:55 AM

I’m eighteen days into NaNoWriMo 2015, a writing challenge to help aspiring authors to finish the first draft of a long form novel in one thirty days. And I’m going to finish tonight. Even though a real novel is closer to seventy to eighty thousand words or more, the goal here is a mere fifty thousand. It’s more like a healthy novella length. I’ve got over forty-eight thousand words committed to my first draft now, and my story is nearing its end.

But still, that’s a pretty healthy sized project to commit to. One would have to average almost seventeen hundred words per day and write every single day to reach the finish line in time.

When I sit down to write, I tend to be a little more prolific than that, and current statistics have me clocking in at over twenty-eight hundred words per day. Not too bad, considering I’m holding down a full-time job and I’m a parent to three kids.

Looking at my number now, I’ve got fewer than eighteen hundred words remaining to “win” NaNoWriMo this year. Chances are, the amount of writing I have left to do on my novel is a lighter burden than this casual stream of consciousness blog that you’re now reading.

I’ve tried writing novels and novellas before, but I never got far until now. And yet this time, it doesn’t seem a burden at all. If anything, the only frustration I have is not having enough time dedicated to crafting stories. So what’s changed between then and now?

Time. As frustrated as I am about time, I’m now dedicating far more of it to writing than I have before. Every man, woman, and child on this earth is given the same twenty-four hours every day, and it can’t be saved, so it must be spent immediately. Write off a third of your allotment every day for sleep. The same amount over again for the day job, and a bit more on top of that for commuting, meals, basic hygiene, etc. That leaves a precious few hours every day for many of us to spend on the important things that remain.

My problem before was trying to do too much with too little time. I’d watch TV, go see a movie, or perhaps hang out with friends for drinks. There were art projects, and sometimes even art shows. There was even some podcasting and Hollywood movie making stuck between the cracks. It felt like I’d been living two or three lives.

So I simplified. I’m actually retired from art photography now. I spend almost no idle time hanging out socially. I get a little TV time in, but with shows like Penny Dreadful, Gotham, and The Flash on the air, can you blame me?

Things started changing gradually. My relationships at home improved. I was reading (and finishing) books more regularly. Sleeping was happening pretty regularly, and for normal durations. And some terrible creative monster in me wanted to write. This is the same beast that prodded me to get involved in art photography, but I think it’s having more fun with writing.

Writing, unlike the sort of photography I was involved with, has no dependency on other people living up to their commitments in order for you as a writer to be successful in yours. As my routine started to settle in, I could sit down every day and count on anywhere from two thousand to seven thousand words (or more) coming forth.

More typically, I’d write about two thousand words on a bad day, twenty-five hundred on a typical day, and I’d stop myself in most cases if I got past three thousand words because I am very cautious about overdoing it and burning out while I’m still finding my cadence.

How do I get this kind of word count every day? Here are some thoughts on things that have worked for me that may work for you:

  • Sleep. I write more effectively when my mind has rested. I don’t spend as much time waiting for that next word to become clear. The words just flow, and I write them down at a steady pace.
  • Take breaks. Two hundred words here, five hundred there, and another thousand if you’re really feeling on fire. That’s all it takes. Do that several times a day and it adds up quickly. It won’t even feel like work.
  • Have writing tools. I invested in a tiny Macbook Air 11″ laptop and it’s the best! It’s small enough to go with me to work. I will often eat lunch at my desk, or in an unbooked conference room, and write a thousand words or so on my lunch break. If traffic is really bad on the way home, I pull off and find the nearest coffee shop and bang out another thousand before heading home. Having my writing tools with me wherever I go has been crucial.
  • Read. The creative process isn’t just about output. Your brain is connecting things that it has consumed from other places. Reading books is like a buffet for the brain. Fiction is especially nourishing.
  • People matter. A lot of us feel like we’re terrible socially. I know I sure feel that way. But if you’re writing about fictional people, you need your readers to connect with them and feel that they are real. The only way you’re going to convincingly do that is to connect with real people and observe everything you can about them without creeping them out.
  • Write down your random thoughts and ideas. You never really understand a thing until you can successfully explain it to somebody else. Writing it down is a way of explaining it to yourself. It’s amazing how these little thoughts can grow and mature just through the act of writing them down. And sometimes they have a funny way of finding new purpose in your greater writing project.
  • A little planning goes a long way. Writer’s block? What’s that? I never hit it. Not once on this project. But I’d spent a little time before I started writing thinking about the characters, the places they’d visit, and what interactions they’d have to drive the story home.
  • Make time. I’m going to repeat myself, but only because it’s important. If writing is important to you, it’s just a matter of making time. If you have the time to write, and you’re inclined to be a writer, there’s no magic incantation to cast, no class to take. You’re just going to write. It might be crap. It probably will be crap. Honing your craft is a whole different adventure, and one that I’m only just getting started on myself.

In the time I took to write this blog, I could have finished the first draft of my novel. I’ll do that next. This was written for the pure joy of writing it, and also as a selfish act. You see, while some of you may benefit from reading this, I was practicing my own advice here and writing down my thoughts to better explain it to myself. This is an act of retrospection. Or, if you’ve been to one of my talks or worked on one of my teams, this is a hansei. I’m looking back and understanding, learning from the changes I’ve made in my life, and my next writing project is going to be better off for it.

Hopefully yours will be, too. I wish you success in your writing endeavors!

Magnus Hedemark : NaNoWriMo 2015 Update: The Final Battle

November 16, 2015 07:48 PM

Last week was an inconsistent yet productive week for writing. I had a lot going on, between fighting a virus and having multiple health & well-being type appointments to keep up. I ended up having one sub-par writing day, and two non-writing days.

Yet I wrote over 7,000 words yesterday and only stopped because I have a day job that I have to sleep for. I didn’t feel pressured to write to make any kind of quota or anything. I just felt the story inside of me clawing its way out. So I let that happen as long as I responsibly could.

Pulling the story away from erotic fiction has made it far more fun to write. When I rework it, the erotic scenes are getting cut and I’ll spend more time developing the characters. This gave me the freedom to have more fun with the story’s climax, which I’ve been having a lot of fun writing.

I’m projecting that my first draft will be done, and I will have crossed the 50,000 word NaNoWriMo goal, sometime late this week.

There are new hearing aids in my life since my last post. I’d had Audicus hearing aids prior to now, and my long term assessment is “meh” at best. To be honest, I wouldn’t (and didn’t) buy them again. I’ve moved up the food chain and I’m evaluating a pair of ReSound LiNX2 hearing aids. These puppies are paired to my iPhone 6. I’ll blog more about them later.

Tarus Balog : The Inverter: Episode 54 – The Trolley Problem

November 16, 2015 06:24 AM

Throw out the first segment, and this is one of the best Bad Voltage episodes yet.

It’s not that the first segment sucks (well, for certain values of “suck”), but it pales in comparison to the rest of the show.

That first bit concerns a rant, introduced by Aq, about a trend in programming to rely on “frameworks” instead of actually learning how to code in a particular language. It was set off, as I understand it, by someone wanting to know how to add together two numbers using JQuery, and the response was, uh, why don’t you just add the numbers together using Javascript?

I can understand the frustration. There was a recent rant by Linus Torvalds about a pull request submitted against the kernel that was unnecessarily obtuse. As the pressure mounts to get more and more code out faster and faster, not only are novice programmers being asked to do more complex tasks, they are relying more and more on frameworks and libraries to do them.

While I am not a coder, I do view the writing of code as an art form, and I like code that is artistic: beautiful, clever and functional. I can remember many years ago visiting an especially ugly page on a government website, and when I looked at the source I found it had been generated by Microsoft Frontpage. Yes, that tool would create a web page, but in no way will the code be beautiful or clever, or in this case, functional.

I was not sure if this rant applied to IDEs. Almost all OpenNMS code is done in Eclipse. I think I’m the only one who uses vi, along with healthy amounts of recursive grep. We also use a lot of libraries. Why reinvent the wheel? Of course, this has caused the size of the OpenNMS application to balloon, currently pushing more than half a gigabyte. But space is relatively cheap and time matters, so why not?

I thought it very telling when Aq decided he disliked code that involved any level of abstraction above what he was using. It reminded me of the old George Carlin joke that anyone who drives faster than you is a maniac, while anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot. I did like it when they reminisced about classic code that was very compact and just plain fast. These days we trade speed of completion for speed of execution. My own memory is of running Mac OS 6 on one double sided (800K) floppy. I could put the O/S, MacPaint, MacDraw and MacWrite all on one disk will about 100K left for my files. I couldn’t afford a Mac back then (they ran about US$5K) but the school had ones you could use and all I needed to carry was that disk.

The next segment talked about the Blue Yeti microphone. I bought one of these specifically for the time I was on Bad Voltage, so there must be something in the water about this show and owning one. I was a little confused, however, when the segment starts and Jono states he bought his as a travel mic. This sucker is huge, and as I like to travel as light as possible I can’t imagine dragging it around. However, as the segment continues, it is obvious we are talking about the same mic.

It is a great device. While I like getting input from the gang on which toys to buy, my go-to source for tech advice is The Wirecutter, and the Yeti is their microphone of choice as well. If you plan on recording for the Internet, you should seriously consider getting one of these.

It is the third segment that I thought was brilliant. I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but the discussion centered around ethics programming in self-driving cars. While I disagree with Jeremy that this is something that will need to be figured out before these vehicles become mainstream, it will be a question in need of an answer as they mature.

The scenario offered is this: You are in your self-driving car going along a mountain road. Suddenly, you turn a corner and there are five people in the way. Assuming the car can detect this, should it continue on, protecting the passenger but possibly killing the five people, or should it drive over the side of the cliff, killing the passenger but saving the people in the road?

Wow – what a neat question.

I have no idea of the correct answer. It did dawn on me (as it did the gang) that if the solution was to sacrifice the passenger that pranksters would be more than happy to jump in front of these cars just to see what happens, and I think in at least those models aimed at higher end consumers, they may tout that passenger safety has been programmed into the system to be paramount.

It was a real “grown up” question and I think spawned one of the better discussions ever done on the show.

I was surprised no one brought up Spock’s death speech, “The needs of the many, outweigh … (the needs of the few) … or the one” but Aq did reference the I, Robot movie so he gets points for that.

The final segment concerned the UK government’s decision to put pressure on technology providers to eschew strong encryption in favor of either weak encryption or some sort of back door. Apple has stood up and stated that, if enforced, they would stop selling their products in the UK. It was scary to think about this, since no elected official in any company would want to be labeled as the guy who stood in the way of someone getting an iPhone. Bryan pointed out that the market capitalization of Apple is roughly US$700B, putting it at about 25% of the UK’s GDP (with its fifth highest GDP in the world), and so that threat carries a lot of weight.

This was another “big boy question” and I liked the discussion. Should anyone announce that a back door exists in a popular technology, you can bet the bad guys will throw everything at exploiting it. It’s just not a good idea, although it isn’t surprising that it comes from the UK, a country known for the ubiquitous use of CCTV (on a side note, they have also started using traffic cameras that track you between points and if you exceed the posted speed between them, you get ticketed.)

Of course, there is the thought that a private company like Apple has the ability to sway governments, but no one minds the 800 pound gorilla when it is on your side.

During the outro the guys announced they are returning to SCaLE next year to do a Live Voltage show. These are awesome and shouldn’t be missed, and they have room for nearly 1000 people in the venue so expect it to be crazy. Plus, if you visit the site you’ll see Bryan Lunduke right on the front page next to Cory Doctorow – which I think is pretty cool. Outside of Live Voltage, he’ll be doing a presentation on why he hates freedom, I mean, why Linux sucks.

While we aren’t sponsoring that show, OpenNMS is a gold sponsor at the conference, so be sure to go and stop by our booth.

Anyway, the lads did a great job this week. If you have never listened to Bad Voltage, this would be a great one with which to start.

Mark Turner : Hallie’s activism brings out the haters

November 15, 2015 08:27 PM

Our 13-year-old daughter Hallie has always been concerned about the environment and wanted to do something to help. As parents, Kelly and I have been supportive her pursuit of what she believes in. Her suit against the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission is but one action of a long list of activism she has participated in. As a family we have always worked to make the world a better place and Hallie’s taking up that mantle makes Kelly and me very, very proud.

Predictably and sadly, many who choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that humans are affecting our climate have also chosen to attack Hallie (and by extension, Kelly and me), rather than refute the evidence or argument. I know the climate-change deniers are out there – they are a small but vocal minority – but I am still shocked at the level of meanness and rage that our kind and loving daughter seems to have stirred in them. This is just over the top.

A sample of comments:

ProudlyUnaffiliated, Independent Weekly comment:
“Whoever is behind getting this bright, energetic girl to do this ought to burn in hell. The shame of co-opting children to push this fraudulent, collectivist ideology has never been greater. This is child abuse, which should be punished severely.”

Paul Louis Hinz, News and Observer comment:
“Libtard logic= no logic at all! Well on the way to being a terrific little commie! Just like your mom and dad!”

Paul Merrifield, News and Observer comment:
“You fear mongering drama queens of climate blame “belief” issue your CO2 death threats like climate cowards to billions of innocent children, abuse and exaggerate vague science, goose step our kids to your exaggerated greenhouse gas ovens with sickening childish glee and still proudly call yourselves progressive peace loving liberals? So be it.”

Michael Zsitnyar, News and Observer comment:
“Children like this and their adult enablers should be forced to walk through the death scene in Paris to drive home the point of who and what is a true and real threat to them and all of humanity. This climate change hysteria, and that is what it is becoming along with all the other absurd and obscene theatrics happening on college campuses and elsewhere, shows the failure of public education in this country. Why this was even given this much attention is probably a reflection of how hyper-political correct we have also become as this girl has no standing to bring this. They are indulging her to use her as a prop for their leftist ideology, as the left loves to use children in this manner. Sad and pathetic.”

Jay Williams, News and Observer comment:
“I dont understand why this hasnt been offhandedly dismissed. A 13-yr-old has no legal standing in NC (or ANY state) that would permit her to sue the state- in other words, she is a non-entity. Her idiot parents should have nipped this in the bud, but, hoping for some spotlight, pushed her to continue this idiocy. Its great that her idiot gaylib demmunist parents have encouraged this lunacy…”

Michelle Hunt, Independent Weekly:
“This is what a brainwashed liberal lesbian-to-be fool looks like. Most of the ‘scientific’ claims in the suit are almost 10 years old. Since that time there has been widespread diversion within the scientific community about the validity of ‘global warming’. But this is little more than a scheme for redistribution of power among the global elites, and there is billions if not trillions of dollars to be made off of this crap, so the scientists speaking out against this scam with factual data are being targeted and blacklisted. And no matter what factual data you present to the liberal wackos that drink this Kool-Aid such as the fact that many ice flows have actually been increasing and there have been record cold spells on many continents means nothing to these tool.”

Andrea Dillon, News and Observer comment:
“‘Validity of climate science’ – no such thing. Stop right there. You’re clearly as much a crack pot as this kid.”

Will Sonnett, comment:
“So now we are listening to brainwashed thirteen-year-olds?”

Sonja Yagel, comment:
“Another indoctrinated, brain washed product of public school’s liberal hogwash. Why is it the left thinks they know what is best for everyone? They don’t”

Cheryl De Luca Conklin, comment:
“Must be Awesome to Have A Law TEAM at THAT AGE $$$”

David Herman, comment:
“What are the effects of climate change we are feeling here according to the this child? She doesn’t list any. Nobody is more in tune to the climate than a farmer, certainly not a city kid. We have no crops that grow any better or worse here in my 46 years. Sometimes it rains enough, sometimes too much, sometimes not enough. Sometimes it’s too hot or too cold. But there is no discernable, statistical, or recorded trend one way or the other. Only thing we have is anecdotal observation from one season to the next. The tide comes up to the exact same point it did on the exact same pylons as when I was 5 years old, yet we are told sea levels have risen to the point that thirld world communities have been forced from there homes. How could that be possible if levels havnt risen? This clear liberal lie should make you discount the whole sham of climate change. Her parents should be questioned by DSS for brainwashing and her school should be investigated for teaching junk science.”

Matt Nickeson, comment:
“…What does INFURIATE me is seeing a child being encouraged to take on the weight of the world by the people who should be ensuring that she has a childhood experience. She will be grown shortly, she can assume the troubles of an adult in due time.”

Is this what passes for civil discourse these days? Do some people really feel threatened by a brilliant, poised, passionate young woman like Hallie? Are their egos really that fragile?

What is it about online forums that prompts people to lose their religion like this? Thinking they won’t ever be held accountable for their hateful views? Where does it become acceptable to slander a 13-year-old?

Not all commenters were lowlifes. Some were very supportive of Hallie’s actions. Some disagreed but did so civilly. These are some of the most egregious comments, though after collecting these I found the pit of nastiness goes even deeper on the Facebook page of a certain local TV station.

The First Amendment protects your right to be an asshole. This does not mean you should be an asshole. You’re supposed to have enough sense to come to that conclusion yourself. I don’t expect everyone to agree to everything all the time but wouldn’t it be great if more people moved towards common ground? These folks, by and large, seem to be living narrow, fearful little lives in hate-filled worlds where boogeymen and other threats abound. It would be great if they could be drawn long enough out of their bunkers to see that change does not have to be scary, that what they’re shown on TV does not accurately portray the world they live in, and that strong young women are not only not scary, they may just be what the world needs.

Tarus Balog : Review: Signal by Open Whisper Systems

November 15, 2015 08:20 PM

I like security, and one of the biggest security holes in my technology concerns text messaging and phone calls. While I can secure my data (for the most part), it is hard to secure traffic over the telephone network, especially with the proliferation of devices like the Stingray.

Awhile ago my friend Jeff introduced me to Red Phone by Open Whisper Systems, which was an app that would encrypt your phone calls. I could never get it to work very well, so I didn’t use it, plus Jeff was the only person I talked with who used it.

Flash forward more than a year, and I’m finding that I quite often don’t get texts from Jeff, while he gets mine just fine. He did some investigation and traced the issue to TextSecure, which was an encrypted text app also from Open Whisper Systems. Apparently I was registered on his phone as a TextSecure user, so it was trying to send text to me by that method. Since I no longer had Red Phone on my device (I play a lot with the software on my mobile devices and had not restored it after a clean install) I wasn’t getting the messages.

I went to install TextSecure and found that it has been replaced by Signal. My, what a difference a year makes. Not only was it easy to use, the app itself is pretty nice. It combines both TextSecure and Red Phone features, and is now the default SMS application on my handy.

Signal is 100% open source. The only way for true security is if everyone has the opportunity to examine the code and look for vulnerabilities. Plus, think about it, if you care about security chances are you want to send sensitive information using the service. Without open source you can’t be sure that information isn’t being intercepted by third parties.

This has resulted in some pretty high endorsements:

Quotes about Signal

Signal is available for both Android and iOS, Note that is uses a data connection to send encrypted SMS messages, so it will count against your data cap. I haven’t had the chance to try out the phone functionality as of yet, but it works fine as a normal SMS client as well.

It is nice to come across such a useful piece of software that is 100% open source, and if I happen to send you SMS messages, be on notice that I will be sending you an invite to Signal (grin).

UPDATE: This is so cool. Since the app uses data instead of the SMS protocol for encrypted texts, it works as long as the mobile device has data. Which means that I can get texts no matter what SIM card is currently in my handy. Cool! So I’m in Germany using my Ortel SIM and I’m able to get SMS messages from friends in the US who have no idea where I am or what network I’m using. Killer feature.

Scott Schulz : Toying With OmniFocus

November 15, 2015 01:05 PM

A week or so ago my brother mentioned that one of the Mac podcasts had done an episode about application launchers and asked if I had seen it. I hadn't, but having a few minutes of downtime, I decided to give it a listen. Said show is called Mac Power Users, and the hosts David and Katie do a good job of comparing the big three launchers (Spotlight, Alfred, and LaunchBar). But that's not why we are here today: At several points during the shows (they did a followup on the launcher topic on one of their proceeding shows), one or the other of the hosts pimped a piece of software called OmniFocus.

OmniFocus (OF) is a glorified ToDo list application which allows one to store and work with tasks according to David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. And since I have been (more-or-less) using that methodology for 10+ years now, when OF is mentioned, my attention is piqued (basically, I'm looking for a good excuse to purchase it).

I've know about OmniFocus for years, yet I've never tried it as it has an overly high (to me) cost of entry at $80.00 for the Mac/IOS installs. Regardless, all their pandering ebullience brought me to the point where I thought I would try it at least.

So I downloaded the fourteen (14) day trial, and while I'll reserve my final opinion on the product until the end of that trial, I have entered a bit of data. Yesterday, I added two simple tasks to the Inbox, and since they claim to be "rather smart about guessing what you mean" [1] I told the program that each item was due "tomorrow". The app seemed to have understood what I meant as it capitalized the word Tomorrow and when the task is viewed in the Inspect view, it has the correct dates (see image).

Yeah, but... This morning, when I sat down to check my email and to see what exciting things OF had in store for me, I found that those same tasks are still Due Tomorrow. Hmmm, not so good. Now I'm not sure when OF thinks tomorrow begins, but as it was 0615 and the sun was officially rising, I was pretty certain that, at least in the case of these two tasks, tomorrow was today, or should have been. Furthermore, I did notice that the day count on my trial had decremented by one at some point overnight, and I also saw that the app was synching with their web service as expected, so it appears that whatever internal timers handle such things were functioning properly.

So that just leaves the question: When does Tomorrow become Today in OmniFocus?

OmniFocus Screenshot

Full Size Image

Mark Turner : Hallie sues NC to hear her climate change petition

November 14, 2015 08:58 PM

N&O photo by Harry Lynch

N&O photo by Harry Lynch

Update 26 Nov: Judge Morgan has ruled against Hallie. Details in a few weeks.

It’s been an interesting few days here. For the past two years, Hallie has been involved with an effort to bring about some state regulations on climate-change pollution. With the help of an Oregon-based nonprofit called Our Childrens’ Trust, Hallie filed a petition with the state Environmental Management Commission, urging it to regulate greenhouse gases. In spite of the petition meeting all the requirements to be heard by the full commission, Hallie’s petition was rejected outright by the chair without due consideration, thus the lawsuit.

Yesterday was her day in court, appearing before Superior Court judge Michael Morgan. Hallie has a great team of attorneys (Gayle Tuch, Ryke Longest, and Shannon Arata) working pro-bono to move this case forward and they vigorously pressed her case before Judge Morgan. Our whole family was in attendance as well as Hallie’s maternal grandparents, who drove down from Virginia to surprise her.

The case was to be heard at 9:30 AM in Wake Courtroom 5C. There was a crowd of people in the courtroom as the time approached and a gaggle of press set up in the jury box. Kelly’s parents, Travis, and I sat in the front row of the gallery while Kelly and Hallie took their seats at the tables in front of the judge.

Judge Morgan arrived and got right to work. There were two other cases on the docket, one being the famous “Possum Drop” case and another regarding a pending eviction. Judge Morgan worked to clear the decks of the quickest cases and so heard the Possum Drop case first, which was quickly dispatched with a continuation motion filed by the state. The eviction case proceeded nearly as quickly with the petitioners requesting and receiving a temporary restraining order to extend their stay for another 6 days. After a short break, Hallie’s case began at 10:35 AM.

Hallie’s attorneys presented her case first, laying out the timeline of events and detailing the meticulous care that was put into preparing Hallie’s petition. The judge listened carefully to the arguments and then turned to the defense for response. In my layman’s opinion, the state’s defense seemed flat and unconvincing, often lacking answers to the questions Judge Morgan posed. Throughout it all, Hallie remained poised at the table.

Once the closing arguments were made, the judge announced that he would need some time to render a decision, saying he would rule by Thanksgiving. He then addressed Hallie directly, saying no matter which way he ruled he was impressed with her willingness to make a difference in the world. It was a nice compliment.

Immediately afterward, Hallie and the media gathered outside the courtroom for an interview. I have to admit, seeing my daughter surrounded by a scrum of reporters gave me a brief panic attack! Then I relaxed because this is Hallie we’re talking about. She’s fearless and can speak for herself. I put away the urge to stand beside her and watched instead from the sideline and you know what? She did great. We stayed at the courthouse long enough for Hallie to interview with an Al Jazeera TV crew before walking down Fayetteville Street (with camera filming us as we went) back to our car.

With the day’s real work done, we went out for a celebratory lunch before crashing at our home for the rest of the day. It takes a surprising amount of energy to sit through a legal proceeding. I have great admiration for those who do it every day, both those who work in the court system and those who work in the media.

Hallie has taken this all in stride. She was poised in the courtroom as well as in front of the cameras. She didn’t care to follow all the media about her and just wants to return to her everyday life, though she’s ready to pick up the case again should things proceed. I’m proud of how she’s handled herself.

Her day in court has been covered by the Independent Weekly, ABC11, WRAL-TV, Al Jazeera, the News and Observer, and Time Warner Cable News (statewide). Sadly and predictably, the knuckle-draggers have crawled out from under their rocks, too, but more on that in a future post.

I’m very proud of Hallie! Now, we’ll see what the judge has to say and see if this journey continues.

Tarus Balog : Reflections on Paris and My Cowardice

November 14, 2015 07:50 PM

I was on a bus in Ireland when I heard the news about the Paris attacks. I had gotten up early to head to the opposite coast as I wanted to see an Ireland that wasn’t Dublin, and I don’t think I could have picked a better spot than Doolin, in County Clare.

Today was to be a particularly gray day and it was dark when I started out. It didn’t get much lighter as we rode to Galway, and when I changed buses the driver was playing the news from the radio. Of course the only story was about the more than one hundred people killed in senseless violence overnight.

Peace Symbol by @jean_jullien

I have some friends in Paris and so I immediately reached out to them. As I waited for a response, I pretty much sat, stunned, as the Irish countryside passed by outside my window.

Once I got to my B&B, I dropped my bag and took a long walk, looking for lunch. The day reflected my mood perfectly. It was like nature itself was in mourning. At high noon the sky wasn’t much lighter than at dusk. A roaring wind came off the sea, churning up angry whitecaps. The clouds drizzled rain like tears.

By the time I was getting cold, I found the recommended pub and went in. It was packed, as this is a popular tourist location and they drop people off by the bus load. Since I was alone, I offered to sit at the bar to make room for the next coach, which arrived about five minutes after I did.

A boisterous crowd of mainly young people came in and crowded around the bar where I sat. They were laughing and joking, blissfully unaware of how quickly that can change. I took a little comfort in the normalcy of that moment: people ordered food, the Indian guy asked about vegetarian options, and drinks were poured (including an inexplicable request for a bottle of Miller beer).

As I ate my meal, a nice smoked salmon salad and a wonderful seafood chowder stuffed with mussels, I was reminded of the last time I had mussels this good, which just happened to be in a Belgian restaurant in Paris called La Gueuze.

And I struggled with a dilemma. The Paris Open Source Summit is next week and I am supposed to be there. Heck, I lobbied hard for the opportunity to participate. But while the chance of anything happening is very slim, I can’t say I’m eager to be in Paris at the moment, especially as part of a large crowd.

So I decided not to go.

There were a number of factors. Part of it was concern for my wellbeing. Part of it was concern for my family. I travel a lot and I know they worry no matter where I’m going, and they have been very understanding when I’ve gone to places that don’t exactly have a reputation for safety. I refuse to put my decision on them, but it did play a role.

But I think the deciding factor was actually how much I enjoyed Paris on my last trip. It is an amazing city, and I didn’t want that memory ruined by seeing soldiers on every corner or having to go through intrusive screening at every point of entry.

It makes me feel like a coward. The terrorists have won.

And I can’t understand it. Of all the countries in Europe, the French bend over backwards to be accommodating to different views and ways of thinking. The French motto “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” leads with the word for freedom, and they go to great lengths to explore all the weird corner cases to insure their society is as free as possible.

And that’s what makes me the most angry. I’m certain these acts are going to change that. Not only will it move France to be more restrictive, it will give the more aggressive countries reason to step up military action in the Middle East. A lot more people will die, and most of them will have darker skin. This will create more terrorists, and the cycle will continue.

I hope France and the rest of the world shows some restraint. I’m not, in any way, shape or form, suggesting justice not be sought out, but I’m reminded of something I saw many years ago.

I was living at my parents’ house and my two-year-old nephew was staying with us. It was a beautiful day and so the windows were open, and there was a gentle breeze throughout the house. One strong breeze caught the door behind the boy and slammed it shut. It scared him, so he reached out and smacked the door, as if to punish it. It struck me as a perfect example of a childish reaction – I’m scared and angry so I need to strike out at the nearest thing, whether is makes sense or not.

I hope the world remembers that we are not children.

I don’t have any answers on how to make things better. The best I can do is to promote free and open source software. I know it sounds silly, using FOSS to cure the world’s problems, but in every place I’ve visited (and I’ve been to 37 different countries) I’ve found like-minded people in that community with a strong desire to create new things through cooperation. It creates an environment where anything is possible. In a small way, it creates hope.

I am writing this sitting on my bed at the B&B. It’s cold, and the wind is whipping around the house, but I feel cozy and safe. Here’s a wish that everyone can find a place to be cozy and safe, as well as the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Tarus Balog : Horizon 16.0.4 Security Release

November 13, 2015 04:57 PM

In response to the vulnerability found in the Apache Commons library that OpenNMS uses, version 16.0.4 has been released to help secure against a remote exploit.

The exploit involves Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI) which listens on port 1099 by default. In my previous post I pointed out that if that port is inaccessible, then the exploit can’t happen.

What 16.0.4 does is limit RMI to only listen on localhost. While that will prevent remote exploits even in the event port 1099 is blocked via the firewall, it doesn’t completely solve the problem. To fix the root cause of the issue will require changes to Apache Commons, and we are ready to upgrade to the fixed version as soon as it is available.

We tend to be very internally critical of security issues within OpenNMS, and some people complained that my last post wasn’t technical enough. So I’m hoping to correct that with this one, but if you don’t care about such things you should probably skip it (grin). I have started updating the Security Considerations page on the wiki with details about securing OpenNMS in general, and that will have better information for people interested in security and OpenNMS than this blog post.

While blocking external access to port 1099 will secure OpenNMS against this attack for most people, it doesn’t prevent people who have access to the machine from exploiting the vulnerability. This is called a “privilege escalation” attack vs. a “remote exploit”, as a “normal” user can now have rights (i.e. root access) if they are locally on the machine. Most of our users tend to limit shell access to the server, so this shouldn’t be a problem, but in environments that rely heavily on directory services such as LDAP, the default may be to allow non-privileged access to certain users (say, the “IT Group”) that aren’t involved in maintaining OpenNMS.

And there is also the slim chance that there is a vulnerability in our webUI that could allow a user access to the system. We, of course, don’t know of any and we take great care to prevent it, but simply hoping to limit access to the server as a way to prevent this exploit is insufficient.

So, to prevent it entirely, we are removing RMI. It was introduced in the first iteration of the OpenNMS Remote Poller, but real world installation found that getting the proper ports open was a real pain. So instead the remote poller now talks over HTTP/HTTPS (with the latter being the most secure). Most networks have ports 80 and 443 open, so that made things a lot easier.

Until that is introduced (most likely with Horizon 17), it is still a good idea to limit access to the OpenNMS server to only essential people.

Note that Java Management Extensions (JMX) also use serialized objects and thus could be vulnerable. OpenNMS has a JMX port (18980) but it is bound to localhost by default. In fact, all ports are bound to localhost by default in 16.0.4 except for the webUI, port 8980.

There are a number of other steps you can take to harden your OpenNMS server. I’m planning on detailing them on the wiki, but start with only doing a minimal operating system install. The less software on the system, the smaller the chance one will have a vulnerability.

Also, OpenNMS currently runs as the “root” user. This is due to the fact that it needs access to ICMP traffic as well as port 162 for SNMP traps. Both of these require root by default. With some “stupid kernel tricks” you can run OpenNMS as a non-root user, but it has not been heavily tested. We have a detailed list of issues for running as non-root on our Jira instance.

Sorry to drone on about this, but we take security extremely seriously at OpenNMS. We also have to labor under the misconception that Java is inherently unsafe. It is not true, although people still have nightmares from the early issues with client-side Java applets. The Java in OpenNMS is server-side and we don’t use applets, and the language is used securely in a tremendous amount of software.

For comparison, WordPress, an application I love, is currently estimated to run 25% of the world’s websites. It is written in PHP, a language that has a huge track record of security exploits, and many of the spam e-mails I get link to compromised WordPress sites.

It is possible to secure WordPress (we use it for all of our websites as well) but it takes some diligence. We will remain as diligent as we can concerning the security of OpenNMS, and we will continue to take steps to make it even more secure.

Magnus Hedemark : I’ve been writing, just not here

November 12, 2015 03:37 AM

Despite the relative quiet of this blog, I’ve been quite busy.

  • I’ve retired from photography projects. While I believe I’m pretty decent at it, the engagement model for photographic art in 2015 is fleeting at best. What takes me hours or days to create should take more than a couple of seconds to appreciate. But the world is what it is.
  • I’ve been writing more. A lot more.

One of my major writing contributions was for Project MX, which is pretty neat as the work itself de-emphasizes a list of credits for all who took part and instead emphasizes the subject.

Bigger still, I’ve taken on NaNoWriMo. I took a good bit of October just noodling on my concept, and towards the end of the month I built a bit of outline for it, as well as character and location sheets to help keep me true. I’ve been averaging about 2,500 words written per day every day, and set a hard limit on myself to write no more than 3,000 words per day. At this pace, I’ll easily finish NaNoWriMo ahead of schedule, and use my remaining time to beef up my story to novel length. This is just the first draft, so don’t expect to see any publication announcements soon.

I think the bigger takeaway for me is that I can write novel-length prose, and always could. But unlike other creative projects, I can’t just put myself in front of a blank medium and go to work. Writing a novel takes a bit more thoughtfulness and preparation than that. Moreover, I’ve had to restructure my life a good bit to put my writing on a pedestal. There will be no excuses for missing my writing goals, but my writing may be a completely valid excuse for not taking on any additional responsibilities.

My current project, “My Love, My Slave”, is a compelling story. But I don’t know if I’m ready to publish this one yet until I’ve earned more gravitas. The subject matter is socially challenging, and it’s not a genre I expect to be working in again after this.

So the plan for now is just to finish the first draft, then use the remainder of the year to come up with a 2016 plan. This will include coarse-grained project goals, and taking a first stab at a workflow and schedule that can work with my existing day job responsibilities. I’ve got a rather significant backlog of stories to tell already, and only so much time in which to tell them. You’ll probably see a few of the others published before I get “My Love, My Slave” out there.

The plan for next year will likely not include publishing “My Love, My Slave” for a number of reasons. Instead, I’m hoping to kick off a series of novellas that occur within the same continuity and are released on a regular cadence. This way, anyone who invests early in the series won’t have long to wait for the next installment. I may end up holding on to “My Love, My Slave” until I’ve got six to eight novellas already out there. At least that’s my initial thinking.

The local NaNoWriMo group has been great to get me started on this road. There’s a strong sense of community, and writers pull each other along on 15-20 minute “sprints” that do a great job of incrementally improving one’s daily word count. The more experienced writers are coaching the newbies, giving great advice about keeping one’s priorities straight, just tell the story now and worry about editing later, etc. There are servant leaders called “ML’s” (for Municipal Liaisons) that organize write-in gatherings in family-friendly public spaces, usually coffee shops and public libraries. Through this group, I’m gaining a sense that there is a smaller core that remains actively engaged with one another as they write throughout the year.

Special technology shout-outs:

  • Scrivener – My previous attempts at long-form writing used old typewriters and fountain pens. These are marvelous tools, mind you, but in this modern age the choice of using them carries with it certain responsibilities to do double work (such as transcribing everything from paper into a computer). This is my first serious project in Scrivener and I love how it’s helping me to keep it all organized. When I’m done the first draft, I need to take some time to explore more of its feature set.
  • Evernote – Every time I have a random idea, or run into a link that is informative or inspiring towards one of my writing projects, I can squirrel it away in Evernote and meta-tag it for easy retrieval. The tool hasn’t figured in as much for this project, but I’m already beginning to use it for collecting ideas for future projects. Idea for improvement: The use of templates right now is really clumsy and inconsistent across platforms. I’d love to see templates become a first class feature of Evernote and given consistent treatment across platforms.
  • Dropbox – I’ve got Scrivener set up to push backups of my projects out to Dropbox as I go. I’m usually on a WiFi network when I write, so my backups go out to their storage service almost immediately and sync back down to my other devices. This has been really convenient and reassuring.
  • Apple Macbook Air 11″ (2014) – I bought this late last year specifically for writing, and while it took me a little while to ramp up, I’m really loving it. It’s super small, super lightweight, has great battery life, and it’s powerful enough to do everything I want to do with it. I will say, I made a point of having them max out the RAM at the factory since the standard 4GB seemed insufficient. The 120GB storage is also very spartan, so I don’t load this thing down with music or anything… that’s what the next one is for. I’m hoping the next upgrade will still be available in 11″, still have standard USB ports (which I use heavily), and more fully support a 4K external display at 60Hz (because I’d like to upgrade the display on my desk to 4K). I’d like to see more generous storage and memory options next time, too.
  • Pandora – I know a few songs that I want to hear when I’m writing, and love that Pandora will fill in the blanks with other music that shares the same DNA. I know all the cool kids today like Spotify, but Pandora’s working out well for me and my writing.
  • Trello – I left this for last because I’m not particularly impressed with it. I’m pretty well versed in Agile project management, and I wanted to set up a project board for my writing. Points to Trello for letting me get set up a lot more rapidly than I would have with JIRA. But at the same time, it’s been very primitive. I would even say to the point of having really disappointing design flaws. For example: if you set a due date on a task, you’ll still get alarms on that task even if you move it to a Done state. Trello’s response to me about this was advice to manually clear out the due dates on each task as I complete it. I’d contend this is bad advice covering for a poor design decision: “Done” should consider a task as resolved and treat its alarms and reminders accordingly. I’m very likely to look for a more sophisticated alternative to Trello before I get more ambitious with my writing projects. I’d really like to get a bit crazy with my board and include things like subcolumns within swimlanes to track step by step progress for each task type (example: writing 1,000 words and publishing an edited work to Kindle are two very different tasks but should be followed on the same board). I’d also like to be able to nest tasks into stories into epics.

Mark Turner : Digital Connectors 2015

November 11, 2015 02:47 PM

Me with the Raleigh Digital Connectors, Nov 2015.

Me with the Raleigh Digital Connectors, Nov 2015.

I was invited to give another talk to the Raleigh Digital Connectors yesterday on the topic of blogging. Once again I was inspired by these young men and women who are making a difference in the community. I am always honored to speak to them on the topic of blogging as it’s so important that they know they have this amazing resource known as the Internet with which to express themselves.

Blogging certainly has been a worthwhile endeavor for me. I don’t always get time to write as much as I’d like to but I enjoy the time that I can find.

Take a look at these young people in this photograph. These folks are changing the world.

Tarus Balog : Dublin OpenNMS Meetup

November 11, 2015 11:11 AM

I’m working in Ireland this week, and our UK/Irish Ambassador, Dr. Craig Gallen, used the opportunity to put together an OpenNMS meetup, featuring beer and pizza (grin).

We held it in an office space near Temple Bar thanks to Barry Alistair. Among his many talents, he is also one of the organizers behind, an on-line community for the Irish Software Developers Network.

Ulf at Dublin Meetup

It was a lot of fun. We socialized for a bit, and Craig had arranged the pizza to arrive at the end of our talks in order to reward folks for listening to us hold forth on the wonders of OpenNMS (the beer was on offer first, ‘natch). Once again I ran long and the pizza was consumed between my introduction and Craig’s presentation. I did an overview of the history of OpenNMS and why using open source, especially for a network management platform, is a Good Thing™.

Craig at Dublin Meetup

Craig’s presentation was much better, and covered a lot of the new features that have recently been added to the application as well as the direction the product was moving (such as being positioned for SDN/NFV/Internet of Thingies). No one left or fell asleep and there were lots of good questions.

Events such as this are one of my favorite things to do, so I want to thank Barry and Craig for making it possible.

Tarus Balog : The Many Uses of Grafana

November 10, 2015 11:58 AM

One of the things I love about open source and OpenNMS in particular is watching what people do with it. We knew that we had a great data collector in OpenNMS but sometimes it was hard to display that data in a useful fashion.

OpenNMS is a platform and it is very broad. For example, we do log management, but that is only a small portion of what the application can do, yet there are companies who do nothing but that. So yes, we can display graphs but we don’t necessarily have the resources to focus on making a great data visualization tool.

Enter open source. Torkel Ödegaard has written a great visualization tool in Grafana, so it would be silly for us not to leverage it.

I was at a customer site I and I saw this cool graph:

Grafana Graph

I asked Patrick about it, and he said that he wanted to play with the OpenNMS/Grafana integration so he installed it and within a half hour he had it up and running. He created the graph as a version of the “stacky graphs” you can make in OpenNMS, but it was much easier to do and to maintain.

The name “stacky graphs” came from another customer of ours. They asked me if there was a way to put the bandwidth from all of their peer points on one graph. Now, in OpenNMS, it is easy to make a graph of data from a single device, and it is easy to group multiple graphs together, but it was not easy to put disparate data points on a single graph.

However, OpenNMS is a platform so I was able to find a way. When you create a graph definition in OpenNMS, there are two important fields, called “columns” and “type”. The “columns” value defines the file to look for, say ifInOctets.rrd and ifOutOctets.rrd, and the “type” value tells OpenNMS where to look for those files. So what I did was create symbolic links under the OpenNMS node directory named things like LAX-in.rrd, LAX-out.rrd and NYC-in.rrd, NYC-out.rrd that were linked to the interface RRDs of interest. Then I created a report of type “nodeSnmp” with column names like “LAX-in, LAX-out, NYC-in, NYC-out” etc. Then I could use AREA graphs to print out the data.

This was a pain for a number of reasons. First, you had to do a lot of configuration on the command line. Second, sometimes it is useful to delete .rrd files that haven’t been updated in awhile, but if you aren’t careful you’ll delete the symlinks. Finally, it is a lot of work to add new data sources.

Grafana Graph vs. RRDtool

In this picture you can see the Grafana dashboard in the lower left corner and the OpenNMS “stacky graph” in the upper right. Not only does the Grafana version look better, it will be easier to maintain moving forward.

I am eager to see what others are doing with this, so feel free to check out the integration on the wiki and let me know if you come up with anything cool.

Tarus Balog : Open Source Software and Corporations

November 09, 2015 03:50 PM

An interesting post caught my eye this week entitled “Corporations and OSS Do Not Mix” by Ian Cordasco. It was kind of depressing – here was a person who had spent a lot of free time contributing to open source code, but the actions of some users of that code had taken the fun out of it.

My only issue with it was the targeting of “corporations” in the title. At OpenNMS we have a large number of corporate customers and we get along with them just fine. I want to talk about that in a bit, but first I want to address some of the other experiences Ian had that were similar to mine.

When I became the maintainer of OpenNMS back in 2002, I would often get e-mails from people that would start out with “OpenNMS is good, but what you need to do is …”. I used to spend a lot of time responding to them, pointing out that it was open source and anyone can help contribute to it, so they didn’t have to wait on me to do anything, but it never really helped and it turned into a huge time suck. I started to send back a generic e-mail that went along the lines of “OpenNMS is an enterprise product and if you won’t take the time to understand it then you should try something easier like Nagios” which would usually result in a reply calling me an asshole, but it took little of my time and then conversation was over. Now I pretty much just ignore them.

When you create something and share it, you are putting a bit of yourself out there and there are bound to be critics. For the most part they can be ignored, and you have to develop a thick skin to be in this environment. I’ve found that overall the good far outweighs the bad, and if you can learn to brush off the bad you can be very happy working in open source.

People tend to forget that open source “business” is still “business”. People exchange money in return for services. If I had Ian’s talent I would simply set up various custom development options, so when someone complained about a bug he could just return an e-mail with a price list. If you don’t have time to do it, make the prices really, really large – large enough that you would make time to do it. It’s your life – you are in the driver’s seat. I used to give a talk on running an open source business and I always stressed that you should never compete on price, or at least you shouldn’t lead with “my solution is cheaper”. Sure, open source software can provide tremendous savings over the life of the solution, but that doesn’t mean the solution itself is inexpensive to get set up. Done right, it will be better than any proprietary solution, but that doesn’t mean it comes without cost.

Always remember: free software does not mean free solution.

Getting back to dealing with corporations, like any interaction between two parties is it extremely important to set up expectations. You need to clearly outline what the product the client is buying covers (response time, 24/7 support, etc.). If they aren’t buying anything, then you don’t need to worry about them. I chuckled when I read “Well if you’re not going to take this seriously, we’ll have to start using another project.” We often get the “use another project” line and my response is “knock yourself out”. If you want to take this seriously, then pay me for my work. It’s like going into a free kitchen and complaining the soup is too salty.

A more difficult issue comes when someone wants to submit substandard code. This does require a little effort, since you can’t be sure that this isn’t just an eager but inexperienced coder versus someone lazy. Again, expectations are important. If you publish what the base level of quality should be, such as “must include unit tests”, then you can point to that when you don’t accept a submission. Plus, git makes it very easy to track a master branch and just apply your changes, so some sort of reply about how to do that could deflect criticism about the speed in accepting pull requests.

Ian makes a lot of really good points in his post, but I think he misses a point that if you run your open source project like a business then corporations (i.e. other businesses) will respect you and treat you like a business. We have one amazing company that just hired four (!) OpenNMS developers to work on code that they need. While some of it, if not most of it, will address their particular needs, all of it will be put into OpenNMS and they are paying us (gasp) to help project manage that team. That relationship did not happen overnight, but was built on a series of successful projects where we delivered particular value in exchange for money.

Look, I love, by and large, the open source community and I like being a part of it, but that doesn’t mean that open source and business are mutually exclusive. Learning to deal with open source as a business not only insures more open source gets created, but it also keeps it fun.

Tarus Balog : OpenNMS RMI Exploit

November 09, 2015 01:12 PM

Recently, my RSS feed on OpenNMS stories turned up an article listing a possible remote code execution exploit in a number of applications, including OpenNMS.

In it, the researcher shows that it is possible to execute code on the OpenNMS server remotely due to a bug in the Apache commons library, which OpenNMS uses.

We’re a little unhappy that they published this without letting us know first (note that the e-mail address “security at opennms dot org” exists for reporting such things), but it is pretty easy to make sure that your instance of OpenNMS is safe. Simply configure the server’s firewall to disable remote access to port 1099 (it will need to remain for localhost).

I was happy to notice that the example he uses seems to be related to OpenNMS running on Windows. It can be a bit tricky to get OpenNMS to work on Windows, and perhaps the Windows default firewall doesn’t block port 1099 so that it why they noticed it.

It is a good idea to run something like iptables on your OpenNMS server and limit remote access to a minimal set of ports. Technically, the only port you really need access to is 8980, which is the default port for the webUI. I would assume that you would want port 22 for ssh access (unless you want to use the console for all configuration). In addition, port 162 should be open for SNMP trap reception.

That should be it. Now the application needs access to other ports (such as 5817 for events) so those need to remain accessible from localhost ( or ::1) but that limits all exposure to only people who have shell access to the server, which we assume you limit to those people you trust. Remember to include IPv6 firewall rules if you use it.

An easy test to see if that port is remotely accessible would be to run:

telnet [IP or hostname of OpenNMS server] 1099

from a remote system to see if you can access the port. No connection should be made.

Sorry about this, but as I mentioned this wasn’t revealed to us until after the exploit was public. We are looking in to how we can better protect against this issue from a code change standpoint, but until then simply blocking access to the port will prevent most problems. We do plan to have a code fix in place soon.

Tarus Balog : The Inverter: Episode 53 – They’ve Got a Flamethrower

November 06, 2015 06:44 PM

Okay, so I’ve been slack at getting this review out, since by now they’ve already had the planning meeting for next week’s show. As they mention at the start of this one, both Jeremy and Jono were unavailable for the last planning meeting so Stuart and Bryan ran with it. It was a good show, but it kind of demonstrates that, like many of us, the guys are very busy and sometimes you just have to soldier on, which I think is a great set up for the quality of this blog post.

I’ve been traveling a lot and I’m about to head out again, in part, to attend two great open source conferences in Europe, but last week found me in Rochester, NY which was an easy drive to Buffalo, where I met up with a recovering Jeremy Garcia.

Jeremy Garcia at Buffalo Proper

Due to my fascination with classic cocktails, we ended up at Buffalo Proper, where it turns out they make great drinks. This was right after the taping of the show, so I heard a bit about it from Jeremy and then listened to it on the plane ride back home.

The first segment talks about all the new cool open source computing devices out there, and if they are just for über geeks or will they ever appeal to the masses. I love reading about all the new toys that are available, but unfortunately I’m so busy that I can’t ever find time to play with them. I bought a Raspberry Pi when it first came out, but after it sat on a shelf for six months I gave it away to someone who might actually have time to use it. It took me forever to get around to making an OpenElec/Kodi PVR and without a specific need it is hard for me to find time to just play. I think these things will become more popular, but it will take time as young people (who tend to have more free time) discover them and start coming up with ways to use them.

Think about Lego. When they just made generic sets of bricks, they were a well known company but not very large. Then they started making sets to build specific things, and the brand took off. We’re are the “generic brick” stage now, but I expect something to come along that will create a huge increase in what things you do with these devices.

I am often jealous of today’s youth. Back when I was in school we didn’t have the Internet, per se, but we did have access to a number of dial up services. I used to call into BBS systems a lot (mainly running WWIV) and even figured out how to dial in to the campus network and access the VAX (which was connected to the Internet). There I could use “talk” to communicate with friends. Now, kids today have access to orders of magnitude more information and more toys. Unfortunately, that comes with the risk of “cyber-bullying” and other problems, but still, for those so motivated the benefits outweigh those risks.

I was surprised they didn’t talk about the ruling by the Librarian of Congress that made it (more) legal to tinker with technology you buy, which I think is a great step toward opening up tinkering at all levels.

The next segment discussed “vigilante malware” which uses the same exploits as regular malware but does it in order to make things less vulnerable to attack. Is this a good thing? The guys all agreeded that having someone change things on your devices with out your permission was “bad”, but they differed on the level of bad. I take a different approach. I work hard to keep my equipment up to date, so my assumption is that I wouldn’t be affected. However, many geeks and most muggles aren’t so aggressive, and so they get owned. This results in things like my mailbox being hit by spam (I get around 150 spam messages a day – most caught and processed by our mail server). This wouldn’t happen if people were more careful, as most spam originates from infected PCs, so I’m all for vigilante malware. Think about it – malware isn’t going away so why not encourage more of the good kind? Think of it like “good” vs. “bad” cholesterol. The only real solution to both is better security practices and better code, and both types of malware are incentives.

I think there is a hole in my logic somewhere. It’s kind of like the joke that you should always take a bomb onto a plane. Because while the chance of there being a bomb on a plane is slim, the chance of there being *two* bombs …

Anyway, the third segment talked about the Owncloud application. I’ve been meaning to play with this for some time (see “no time to play” above) as it looks cool. Take all of the nice features of “cloudy” things like Dropbox, and put them on a server you control. I think this is a fine goal. Plus, Owncloud also includes calendaring and contact management (apparently). We currently use Sogo for that, but it would be neat to integrate that with other things.

The only thing that wasn’t clear to me was the business model. The founder Frank Karlitschek states that Owncloud is not “open core” (or as we like to call it “fauxpensource“) but I’m not clear on their “enterprise” vs. “community” features. My gut tells me that they are on the side of good. I can see having a different license for an “enterprise” feature such as Sharepoint integration, especially if Owncloud has to use a proprietary library in order to get it to work at all, and it doesn’t look like the “server” version is intentionally hamstrung in order to get more business. Only finding the time to play with it will let me know for sure.

The final segment concerned laws about open source. The thesis is that the open source community spends a lot of effort working against laws that limit open source, so why shouldn’t the proprietary software world have to fight against laws that would make open source the norm? From the example above, the Software Freedom Conservancy spent a lot of effort to get the Librarian of Congress to make an exception to allow you to examine the software in various devices you own – why shouldn’t other companies have to fight to keep their code closed?

I think the team got this one right – money. Proprietary software companies get an immediate financial gain when their lobbying efforts pay off, but it doesn’t work for free software. However, I am seeing in these days of cost cutting that there is a movement in some governments to promote open source, so I think it is more of a question of true education than lobbying. One of the issues is that it gets confusing when companies like Owncloud offer an “enterprise” version and it isn’t clear what that means. While it might be 99% open source, all a detractor has to do is say “look, Senator, you have to pay just like you do for our stuff, and you know our stuff”.

Overall, decent episode. I get a mention in the outro as Jono refers to Todd Lewis, one of the people behind the All Things Open conference, as the “Nicest Man in Open Source”. I once held that title, but I would happily cede it to Todd. He is a truly nice guy, and is always willing to give you a hug. I used hug too, until that time I hugged Jono in Munich and what happened next had to be explained to my therapist with dolls.

Tarus Balog : Upcoming Conferences

October 30, 2015 12:31 PM

[UPDATE2: My whining paid off and I got moved to the first day at OSMC. At least one round is on me!]

[UPDATE: Yay! Daniel was able to contact the #OSSPARIS15 organizers and I am scheduled to speak.]

I just wanted to drop a quick note about some upcoming conferences. First off, the Call for Papers for next year’s SCaLE conference ends *today*. It’s a great show and they already have some amazing speakers on board, so be sure to get your paper topics in ASAP.

In November I’ll be attending at least one and maybe two conferences. The first is the Open Source Monitoring Conference being held in Nürnberg, Germany.

I love this conference as it really demonstrates the power of true open source communities. While it is mainly focused on Icinga (and you can hear how it is supposed to be pronounced, kind of like “eee-clinga” with a click, but a lot of people just say “eee-sing-ah”), it brings together many of the truly open source projects in the space, such as Zabbix and, of course, OpenNMS, and we all just get along. This year Torkel from Grafana will be there as well, and while I met him at All Things Open I didn’t get to chat with him much, so maybe now I’ll have the opportunity.

And by “get along” I mean drink heavily, and I’m unhappy that I’m speaking (again!) on Day Two as the evening of Day One has a tendency to become the morning of the second day. Luckily it isn’t the first talk of the day like last year so I guess I’ll deal with it (grin). The company that sponsors it, Netways, is actually in the business of hosting such events so it is always top notch.

The second “maybe” conference is the Paris Open Source Summit which is held the same week as the OSMC. This conference is put on by the people who do the Open World Forum, and unfortunately it seems to be plagued with the same lack of organization.

Since I speak at conferences a lot, I tend to run into all the other (more amazing) people who promote open source. Every one of them has complained to me about the lack of communication between the OWF conference organizers and the speakers. While most shows let you know months in advance, the team behind the Open World Forum tends toward the exact opposite. It is extremely hard to get any form of direct communication from them, and years ago I just gave up trying.

When Daniel, my friend in Paris, sent me the information about #OSSPARIS15, I figured I’d give it a shot. As expected, I didn’t hear from them. Not to sound all self-important, but I travel a lot, usually to work with OpenNMS customers, and I need to know as far in advance as possible if I’m speaking at a show. Usually this means I’m giving up some other opportunity, often one that would actually pay the bills. This time I figured that I would be in Europe anyway for the OSMC, so if I got accepted I would just change my return flight.

Last week I started seeing The OpenNMS Group pop up in press releases for #OSSPARIS15, and I found myself on the schedule for Thursday the 19th at 16:00. I wrote to the organizers to confirm and never heard back, but since I love Paris I made plans to be there.

Well, when I sat down to write this post I noticed that I had been removed from the program. (sigh)

This is very frustrating, as every spare cent we make at OpenNMS goes into the project and changes to flights can be expensive. We are investigating to see if this is just an oversight or if, even after the press release, they decided to remove me from the program. Perhaps it is because the website got hacked (grin).

OSSPARIS Website Hecked

I hope to see you at one of these conferences, or at another in the near future.

Mark Turner : One big reason REI can decide to skip Black Friday – The Washington Post

October 29, 2015 11:57 AM

Am I the only one sad that a retailer chooses NOT to make it’s employees work over Thanksgiving is newsworthy? Is this how far we’ve fallen? Does America really worship the almighty dollar this zealously?

Outdoor retailer REI made an announcement Monday that may have sounded like sacrilege to retail industry veterans. It will be closed this year on Black Friday, shutting its doors on retail’s holiest of days and paying its employees for a day off. Some hailed it as an unprecedented move, especially at a time when many other retailers have turned even Thanksgiving itself into a day of holiday shopping.

Source: One big reason REI can decide to skip Black Friday – The Washington Post

Tarus Balog : First Look at Ubuntu Gnome 15.10

October 27, 2015 11:37 PM

Back when I was an Apple fanboy, I would eagerly await the announcement of new products by Steve Jobs, with one window open to the live blog feed and the other refreshing the Apple Store page so I could be the first to order the new shiny. Steve Jobs made me fall in love with my technology.

I’ve rarely felt that since, but when the new Dell XPS 13 came out I became once again attached to a laptop and I was determined to make it work under Linux.

While it ships with the latest stable Ubuntu release, 14.04, there are issues. Now I often say that we in the open source community suffer an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choice. Since I’ve found that Linux Mint with Cinnamon works best for me I tried it, but I just could not get it to work with the XPS. To address the shortcomings in Ubuntu 14.04, I read Barton’s Blog and decided to upgrade to 15.04. That addressed a lot of the problems, and I used Ubuntu with Unity for awhile, and although Unity was my first real Linux desktop it doesn’t work as well for me anymore. I also found that its HiDPI support was not quite there. I also tried Kubuntu but its HiDPI support (in my experience) was even worse, and since I’d based my laptop I figured I’d give Ubuntu Gnome a shot.

Now I wasn’t one of those haters who just ranted on Gnome 3.0, but when it came out I couldn’t get used to it. However, when I went to install Ubuntu Gnome on the XPS, I was encouraged that the installer recognized out of the box that I was on a HiDPI screen. There have been a lot of changes since that initial release and I found myself warming to it.

I do want to note that while I found all the desktop options I tried to be pleasantly polished, and, well, “pretty”, I decided to stick with Ubuntu Gnome.

A pesky issue with the touchpad and the touch screen required the 4.1 kernel or later. For months I’ve been running mainline kernels, so when 15.10 was announced with the 4.2 kernel standard, I was eager for the upgrade, and I ran it as soon as it became available.

So what does 15.10 offer? All I can really say at the moment is that it offers a pretty painless upgrade process. I ran “do-release-upgrade -d” and after answering a few prompts it went on its merry way.

Wireless worked out of the box (I used to have to futz with the Broadcom driver when on mainline) and overall the system seemed to be pretty smooth. During the boot process I get this error concerning lvmetad which I think is due to the fact that my entire laptop disk is encrypted, but the boot completes without any other issue and I have confidence it will soon be addressed.

Speaking of boot, Ubuntu Gnome has changed the logo on the boot screen. Instead of the familiar foot:

Old Ubuntu Gnome Logo

You get this new one:

New Ubuntu Gnome Logo

Forgive the quality as I had to produce the second image by taking a picture of the screen. While I like that the colors have been softened from black to a gray, I don’t like the new logo, which looks like two U’s mating. I think it is supposed to represent “UG” but I still don’t like it (and I tend to embrace change). I’m hoping someone puts together a splash screen replacement.

The only real issue that is driving me bonkers at the moment concerns the touchpad. One thing Apple just nailed is the touchpad and the Synaptics one on the XPS is oh so close.

The problem I’m experiencing concerns the cursor jumping when I left click. There are no “real” buttons, so you left click by depressing the lower left corner of the touchpad (or clickpad, whatever it is officially called). Sometimes when this happens, instead of registering a click the cursor will jump to the lower left corner of the screen, and *then* click. It is real annoying in Thunderbird since the icon in the lower left corner puts it in offline mode.

I’ve tried most of the suggestions I’ve found in the t00bz but nothing has helped. I just found a reference to HorizHysteresis and VertHysteresis so I’ll play with those values and see if it helps (update – doesn’t seem to). Not quite sure what they do, however. I think the issue has something to do with a finger from my right hand still grazing the touchpad surface when I make the click.

On the upside, the palm detection issues I was dealing with seem to be improved. Not sure if they have been solved but I’m not noticing it as much. Could be that I’ve just modified my typing form to avoid the touchpad better.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the upgrade. It should set up a nice base for the next LTS release, 16.04. I’m not quite willing to give up Linux Mint on the desktop just yet, and I’ll probably try out Mint 18 when it is released next year, but Ubuntu Gnome 15.10 has at least made switching a possibility.

One final note, I like the new shiny and I’m willing to put up with a lot in order to play with it. I give money to Dell to encourage them to supply more Linux offerings, but the downside is that Dell leads with devices designed for Windows first. If you want a true Linux experience with zero issues, check out the offerings from System 76. Our Sable all-in-one desktops Just Worked™.

Okay, so that wasn’t the final note. While I doubt any of my three readers work for major laptop vendors, I really want to see a push for physical kill switches on things like the camera and the microphone, such as on the Librem 15. I considered getting one of those but they are a little sketchy on what “PureOS” actually is, and so I’ll wait to see what others think of it first.

Tarus Balog : 2015 All Things Open

October 24, 2015 04:19 PM

I love going to open source conferences. Despite that I’ve decided to take a hiatus in 2016 so I can focus on some OpenNMS projects that have been languishing. However, I may need to make an exception for All Things Open.

One reason is that it is nearby. It was odd to wake up Monday morning and drive to a show. The other reason is that it just rocks.

Organized by IT-ology (the same people who do POSSCON), the show attracts nearly 1800 people to the city of Raleigh. Since Raleigh is also the world headquarters of Red Hat as well as being next to the Research Triangle Park, you get a great mix of attendees and speakers. It’s popular, so remember to get there early to avoid the registration line:

ATO Line

This year OpenNMS was a sponsor and we decided to have a booth.

ATO Booth

Come over to OpenNMS, we have cookies.

Well, not exactly. The cookies were a snack from the show, but we did have cool #monitoringlove T-shirts featuring Ulf:

ATO OpenNMS Shirts

Our booth was in a great location, right next to the folks and just down from the Red Hat booth. On the first day Jim Whitehurst (the amazing CEO of Red Hat) was there signing his book The Open Organization. Afterward, he spent a few minutes talking with Todd Lewis, the main organizer of ATO, and Jason Hibbets let me photobomb the picture:

ATO Photobomb

I also got to meet this guy:

ATO Taras Mitran

Check out his badge:

ATO Taras Mitran's Badge

Yes, this is the fourth “Tarus” I’ve met, but the first who spelled it “Taras”. The first was a “Tauras”, the second a “Taurus” and the third spelled it like me, “Tarus”. I was named after the movie Taras Bulba so his is the traditional spelling (grin).

We had most of the local OpenNMS team there, and we would take turns at the booth and enjoying the conference. I was speaking on Tuesday, so I had Monday free (well, after I finished my presentation).

Monday night there was an event sponsored by GitHub followed by a Speaker/Sponsor dinner at the Sheraton hotel. At our table sat Gianugo from Microsoft (who helps out OpenNMS with an MSDN subscription) and Jono from Bad Voltage (who, well, we’re not sure what Jono does but we think it’s positive). When I met them earlier in the day I wanted to do that whole David Letterman “Uma/Oprah” bit from the Oscars: Gian … Jono. Jono … Gian.

ATO Gian and Jono

The next morning I gave my talk on “Living an ‘Open’ Life”. It was in a small room but it was full, and my only major mistake was that I thought I had 55 minutes and only had 45, so I missed finishing a chunk of the talk. (sigh)

While I spent most of the conference doing booth duty, I did manage to see the Lightning Talks. I’ve always wanted to do a Lightning Talk. These are short, five minute presentations on interesting subjects, and while they didn’t do this at ATO, I really like it when you get 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds.

Whenever I mention my desire to the team to do this, they laugh and point out that I can’t even introduce myself in less than five minutes. I would disagree but as I demonstrated with my ATO talk, it is hard for me to keep things brief. (grin)

The hour started off with a video featuring an interesting story on the Enabling the Future project. I’m bummed that I can’t find the exact video they showed, as it was moving, but it demonstrated how a community of “makers” was helping to provide improved prosthetic arms to people using collaboration and 3D printers. It was exempted from the five minute time limit.

Then Rikki Endsley and Jason Hibbets from took the stage:

ATO Rikki and Jason

They were the organizers behind the lightning talks.

I finally got to see Steven Vaughan-Nichols in person.

ATO Steven Vaughan-Nichols

He is a writer who I have been following for years, and I am disappointed that I didn’t get to meet up with him in person. In his presentation he talked about how he got into writing about open source software, as well as the early computers he used that ran Unix, such as the PDP11. My first experience with a PDP11 was one that ran, I think, RSX-11, but all I can remember is writing in FORTRAN on it.

ATO Jamie Duncan

I also enjoyed the talk by Jamie Duncan, who I had spoken with at the Speakers/Sponsors dinner. He is a delightful individual with wonderful stories, such as those involving his time working to fix The title of his talk, “Gleaming the Kube”, was a play on a skateboard movie from the late 1980s. He is very outspoken on the fact that containers, such as Docker, are basically made up of kernel tricks and to make them useful you need something like Kubernetes (hence the name of the talk).

ATO Sarah Kahn

There was also a talk by Sarah Kahn about Girl Develop It, an organization aimed at helping women interested in learning code development skills. It was nice to see a large turn out by women at the conference, probably more so than the others I have been to this year, and with kernel contributors like Sarah Sharp feeling the need to leave the kernel development team, women in tech is something that needs to be addressed.

ATO Charlie Reisinger

While all the talks were good, my favorite was from Charlie Reisinger of the Penn Manor School District. They gave students Linux laptops with full root access (gasp!) and were amazed and what they did with it. While technology can be a scary place for the younger generation, too often school overreact in trying to protect students, when in fact technology can be empowering.

ATO Jono Bacon

The final talk was from my friend Jono Bacon, who gets all the cool speaking gigs and makes me jealous. His talk was on the field of behavioral economics, which points out that most traditional economic theory is based on the fact that people should behave rationally when making buying decisions. Behavioral economics demonstrates that with the proper stimulus, people will behave irrationally. I was introduced to this concept through the book Predictably Irrational back in 2008 and even got to meet the author, Dan Ariely, in 2009, when we met for lunch and discussed the power and problems with the word “free”.

While Ariely is definitely an economist, Jono introduced me to Rory Sutherland, who is a prominent figure in the field of marketing. There is a great TED Talk by Sutherland who talks about marketing, influence and behavioral economics, and Jono covered some of the main points by him and others.

(Seriously, the TED Talk is brilliant, especially Sutherland’s take on wine that starts about 10:30, and his thoughts on understanding English around 20:00)

After the Lightening Talks I headed back to the booth. Apparently the Convention Center was hosting another conference that evening and we were asked to take down the booth around 3pm, so we did. Then we headed home, which was nice since I haven’t spent much time there recently and is one of the reasons for my hiatus, but missing ATO in 2016 will be hard for me to do.

Mark Turner : Curiouser and curiouser

October 19, 2015 01:45 AM

You know the saying, “be careful what you wish for?” Well, it’s really true. I had been pondering lately some of the bigger questions in life and lo and behold I was presented with an opportunity to explore these questions. I won’t go into details but I can say that the world doesn’t look quite the same to me as it did just a few weeks ago. Mind blown.

Mark Turner : Bouldered over

October 19, 2015 01:34 AM

As I mentioned earlier, I took a new job recently. Last week I visited the company headquarters in Boulder for the company’s new employee orientation. Though I dreaded the thought of days of mind-numbing meetings it turned out to be a lot of fun. I was particularly impressed that my new colleagues and I took an afternoon out to volunteer for a local charity. That, and everyone was incredibly enthusiastic and helpful during the event. Obviously the company hires the right people – these are people anyone would want to work with.

I stuck around a few extra days to get in some work with my department, too, which was spent in a few team-building exercises and overviews of the product I’ll be supporting. It was a big jump-start to my daily responsibilities.

Though I had some time to look around after work, I really didn’t feel like doing much after most of my workdays were through. My first night in Boulder I spent eating alone at a great French restaurant but I was reminded how the experience of eating alone really sucks. My colleagues and I ate the rest of the evenings, which rocked, though I chose to go it alone Thursday night as I wanted to do some sightseeing. I left work about 5 PM and headed up Boulder Canyon to visit Nederland at altitude 8,236 feet. After a brief look around (actually not much to see), I returned to Pearl Street Mall for a slice of pizza to carry back to my room at the Hotel Boulderado. The rest of the night was spent with my nose in a book. Guess I really know how to live it up on an expense account. :)

On a less-fun note, I felt ill from the time I set foot in the Denver Airport Friday to early this morning. Had a headache almost that entire time. Only by mid-morning was I feeling myself again. My friends blamed it on the approaching cold front but I can’t say if I got food poisoning at the airport restaurant or not. Other than that, though, my travel was pretty easy and worthwhile. Glad to be home (and feeling better), though!

Mark Turner : Unfriendliness

October 19, 2015 01:22 AM

Noticed today that someone I thought was my friend unfriended me on Facebook. What’s odd is that we still have dozens of friends in common. I’ll give it a few minutes of thought and then I’ll promptly move on, because I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t particularly care to sugarcoat my thoughts for anyone’s benefit.

I am who I am. I respect you for who you are (the Hindi concept of namaste resonates strongly with me). If you cannot accept me for who I am I am not going to change for you.

Peace out. Namaste. Good luck to you. Just don’t expect me to slow down for you.

Tarus Balog : The Inverter: Episode 52 – Immensely Deft

October 16, 2015 03:06 AM

For this episode, the Bad Voltage team returns to normal with a taped show clocking in at just over an hour. I really enjoyed this one and it made me remember why I started this little column in the first place. Most of the time they bring up stuff for which I have strong opinions, and these posts let me express my thoughts in some depth. Plus, my three readers don’t seem to mind, if they read them at all (grin).

So, if you haven’t listened to it already, please do so now. I’ll wait.

The first segment focuses on the Volkswagen software scandal where, as Jeremy put it, code was added that basically said “if under test, then lie”. I even came up with a joke about this while in Germany. How many VW engineers does it take to change a lightbulb? Forty, unless the emissions inspector is watching, then it is only one.

I had three main thoughts about this topic. The first concerns the US VW CEO Michael Horn, who blamed the whole thing on rogue engineers. Unlike the overall CEO (I found reference to a “North American” CEO, too, how many CEOs does this company have?) Martin Winterkorn who resigned, Horn is obviously taking the coward’s way out and looking to blame anyone but himself. It seems a little fishy – one would think that all the major engineering decisions would be made in Germany, so had Horn testified to that effect instead of trying to shift blame I would have been a little more comfortable with his testimony, but now it seems like he is trying to hide something, which would suggest he knew about the issue. Winterkorn stated “I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group” which seems to indicate it was too large to just be confined to one or two “rogue” engineers, casting even more doubt on Horn’s account. But since Horn lives in the US of A it is doubtful anything will happened to him, and even if it did he could always find a high paying job in the financial industry. (sigh)

The second thing that bothers me is that this kind of cheating would not be possible if the code for the cars was open source. Heck, the DMCA specifically prohibits “anti-circumvention” which has been interpreted to mean that attempts to reverse engineer proprietary code are illegal, so even attempting to figure out what they are doing could land you in jail. With growing demonstrations of huge security issues in automobile software something needs to be done about it, and of course I’d like to see things become more open. I have been thinking about selling my car, a 2004, but one thing that has kept me from doing it is the thought all of the possible software holes in new vehicles.

Finally, as someone who once owned a 2002 Jetta TDI, part of the diesel ownership experience is the idea that you are helping the environment. I can run biodiesel in it, perhaps from recycled cooking grease, and the overall pollution equation is supposed to be close to that of a hybrid (when you consider the environmental damage used to make the batteries) or an electric car (the majority of electricity in the US is from coal, so add that to the damage caused by mining rare earths). To find that you have been lied to and are actually a huge polluter is quite a blow, and it is the one thing VW won’t be able to easily fix.

One of my team owns a later model TDI and I am very interested to see what happens. My guess is that a software-only fix will simply dumb the power curve down to the point where the car is unusable (and modern diesels can be quite peppy). Think about it: using Jeremy’s “if-then” analogy above, “set test=true” and bam, you pass emissions. Probably makes the car run like crap or they would have done it from the start, but that is an extremely easy software fix. My prediction is that it will take a class-action to get VW to address the problem properly, which will ultimately involve a car “buy back” program.

Anyway, I’m sure the guys will revisit this in the near future and I look forward to hearing more of their thoughts.

The next segment talked about a portable desktop/laptop thing from System 76 called a Serval Workstation. This is a monster device, weighing nearly nine pounds without the charging brick in the 17-inch form factor, that is meant to be a laptop that acts as a high performance desktop.

Several years ago I became tired of lugging even my small laptop around, and so I found a deal on Woot for a decent desktop and bought two of them. I added a couple of nice monitors and now I have one at home and one at the office. With everything I need being accessible from the network, I really didn’t see the need for a laptop (of course, I have one for when I travel).

I thought Aq hit it on the head when he mentioned all of the stuff you have to get for a desktop: keyboard, mouse, camera, speakers, etc., that just comes with a laptop. I especially like the built in UPS – as someone who lives in a rural area they are a must for the frequent power fluctuations. Laptops just come with them. Thus the appeal of this device is to create a portable desktop that is easy to move, trading size and battery life for power.

Also, I really like System 76. I tend to vote with my wallet, and when we needed to replace some aging iMacs I bought a bunch of Sable machines from them and we haven’t been disappointed. They “just work” with Linux, and they are both reasonably priced and pretty sharp looking as well.

The one thing I wish the guys had talked about is the anemic 1080p resolution. I hate the fact that so many laptop manufactures seem content with such a limited pixel density. Sure, 1080p on a 12-inch screen is fine, but on a 17-inch monster? My desktop monitors have a much higher resolution, and my latest laptop, the Dell XPS “sputnik” has even higher density. The HiDPI screen has caused some issues, so that could be one reason that System 76 opted for a lower density, but still it would be nice to have a HiDPI solution that just worked.

My final comment on this is that they are actually wrong when it was stated that the Dell Ubuntu version requires patches that must be installed via a Dell repository. I don’t run the Dell repos on my machine as most of the changes have been ported upstream and there was nothing in the repos I actually needed. Yes, it didn’t work out of the box – it shipped with Ubuntu 14.04 but I am running Ubuntu Gnome 15.04 with a 4.1 experimental kernel to address some of the more irritating bugs, but with 15.10 coming out in a week I am very eager to play with an O/S with the 4.2 kernel delivered as standard.

The third segment was on the idea of a “delayed public license” where code would be initially published under a proprietary license but at some predefined point it would convert to an open source license. While I appreciate the idea behind it, this is not a licensing issue that requires a new license. We really don’t need any more open source licenses. Instead, you could just publish it under a proprietary license with the terms that “on such and such a date” the license would become something else.

The idea is that a lot software has a limited shelf life, and once the immediate revenue opportunities have been exploited, there isn’t much need to keep software closed. Thus a small team of developers could monetize their work yet still add an open source angle to it. This isn’t a new idea, as mentioned in the show id software does this with a lot of its technology. First they opened their Doom engine, and a few years later they opened their Quake engine. Easy peasy.

My suggestion would be to promote this behavior versus coming up with a new license. Also, while I like the thought of putting the code up on something like Github on day one with a proprietary license so that it would be out there when the time came to open source it, I would recommended heavily against this line of action. We have been through a number of cases where people have appropriated OpenNMS code in spite of the license, and the discovery process can be quite expensive if not cost prohibitive. Since this method of starting out proprietary and moving to open source was aimed at small development teams, do yourselves a favor and just hide the code until you are ready to open it. It will work out better in the end.

There were a couple of bits at the end of the show. Jono did a quick “Hack Voltage” segment letting people know that many mobile carriers have the ability to turn e-mails into SMS texts. For example, if you are on AT&T, sending an e-mail to your number “” will result in an SMS to your phone. We’ve used this a lot in OpenNMS (there is even a field called “pagerEmail” for the address assigned to each user) and it was nice to learn about the addresses for other popular providers. Note that if you have a need to send actual SMS messages (say, if your e-mail server or network is down) you can get an inexpensive device that will let you do it for the price of a SIM card.

They closed the show with a nice long “thank you” to us for hosting the Live Voltage show in Fulda. I was quite touched and I bet the rest of the team were as well, and I look forward to the next “hinted at” live outing of the Fab Four.

Tarus Balog : The Inverter: Episode 51 – Live Europe 2015

October 15, 2015 04:16 PM

What can I say? Best. Show. Evah.


Of course, I might be slightly biased since I helped make this one happen. Every year we have an OpenNMS Users Conference and this year it was held in Fulda, Germany. In an effort to attract more people, I thought it would be cool to get some open source celebrities. That didn’t work out, but I found that most of the guys who do the Bad Voltage podcast would come out for the price of airfare and lodging. The fact that it coincided with Oktoberfest didn’t hurt.

The guys may joke that they just throw the show together, but I’ve gotten to see how the sausage is made and they do put a lot of effort into making an episode – especially a live one. With the help of the wonderful people at the University in Fulda, I think it went really well.

We had Jeremy Garcia, Jono Bacon and Stuart Langridge there in person, but Bryan Lunduke stayed at home due to the recent birth of his second child. Well, that and the fact that he hates me. He was there in spirit, however, via the “Bryan-o-tron” which was a large, red button that when pressed would produce Bryan saying a pithy quote. It worked out well and was pretty funny.

The first segment focused on Cybercrime and ways to stop it. I was in the camp that most “cyber” crime is actually old school crime just using computers. A lot of it still relies on people being stupid, naive and/or greedy.

For an example on how low tech crime still works, we recently had our car burglarized and they stole Andrea’s purse. About a week later we noticed nearly two thousand dollars missing from our account. The thieves had written a check from a stolen account and then used her ID to cash it. Even though we had changed our account number and we never withdraw large sums of cash, the bank went ahead and dispensed the cash (the person had gone through the drive through teller and used her driver’s license as ID). This despite the fact that we had reported the theft, changed our account and the signature on the back of the check wasn’t even close to her’s. Of course, they refunded the money to us (after about a week) but I was still amazed that, in this day and age, with debit cards and PIN numbers and multiple ways to ID a person, this actually worked.

The next segment was taken from the first Bad Voltage Live show at SCaLE and it was called “Wrong in 60 Seconds”. The idea is to give people 60 seconds to rant about something, and then the team would judge who did the best job. We were worried about this bit because Europeans tend to be more reserved than Americans, and even with a little bit of beer in them we weren’t sure what the participation level would be.

And our worst fears were realized. Only Ken Wimer volunteered to rant, and we needed at least two more people. Jessica saved the day by volunteering Antonio Russo (a great choice) and I immediately thought Ian Norton would do a good job, so I threw his name into the hat. They all agreed to do it, and it was a lot of fun. The lighting is kind of poor, so you miss the fact that Antonio actually threw his shoes before starting. Ken ranted in German, Antonio in Italian, and Ian in English.

It came down to a tie, with Jessica casting the deciding vote for Ian. The prize was a really nice tablet.

The last segment features Stuart talking about the biggest danger to open source being the people involved. This may seem a little counter-intuitive: open source is a movement made up of people, so how could they be the biggest danger to it? But he makes some good points, specifically you never hear someone in the Apple user community blasting someone because of their choice of application, but we constantly get factions up in arms about Unity vs. Gnome vs. KDE and Ubuntu vs. Fedora vs. OpenSUSE. Even in the opening parts of the show they joke about the three OpenSUSE guys (who came a long way to be at the show) being the *only* three OpenSUSE users. We laugh but it is somewhat endemic of open source culture and maybe we need to change it. It’s one reason we at OpenNMS strive to be both welcoming and tolerant of new users, as they will be the evangelists of the future.

Toward the end of the bit the Bryan-o-tron took a fearful turn as it was no longer static images and canned quotes, but Bryan himself via a Google Hangout. He unleashes his trademark vitriol and then manages to join the show via a DoubleRobotics telepresence robot.

While this worked flawlessly in rehearsal, we had some connection issues and Bryan’s face was missing from the screen. Here is what it should have looked like:

OUCE Robot

In any case, it was funny, and toward the end when he slowly storms off, the robot locked up in forward mode (I’ve had this happen to me) and slammed into the wall, falling over. No harm was done and it was a pretty funny way to end the segment.

That was pretty much it for the show. Clocking in right at an hour, I think it went well. I’ll be eager to see the next Live Voltage when they plan one.

Warren Myers : dell buys emc

October 13, 2015 06:42 PM

So I missed predicting anything like this one.

If you’ve been under a rock, like apparently I was last week, you’ve missed out on hearing Dell is purchasing EMC. For $67 billion. With a “B”.

This seems to be taking lots of people by surprise, but it makes perfect sense: Dell is already a huge supplier of servers into not only the SMB market, but also enterprise and cloud providers. EMC needs to find ways to keep their expensive storage relevant, especially in an era of storage proliferation, do-it-yourself options that are more than merely good enough, and less and less need for “dedicated” storage (though you still need flash in the underlying arrays, contrary to what Todd Mace thinks).

Thin provisioning, on-demand storage expansion and contraction (ok, ok – so the “contraction” part is not common), separation of duties via *aaS architectures, and more has been pushing EMC not so much to a bit or bench player, but into a corner of making it harder and harder to justify their pricing.

Silver Lake & Michael Dell obviously see the benefit of doing what some have claimed as the biggest merger in tech history (the Compaq-HP debacle was ~$25 billion back in 2001; AOL-TimeWarner was ~$106 billion, but not a pure tech merger). But the benefit is not the synergy of storage and servers.

Nor is it the management software, services groups, great corporate management, or anything of the kind.

The benefit will be in having a completely vertically-integrated and holistic offering because EMC is the majority owner of VMware.

That is why Dell et al wanted EMC. And why they’re willing to pay $67 billion in cash, stock, debt, etc to get it.

This move perfectly pivots Dell, already maneuvering away from “just” servers into a major competitor in the cloud space – especially the enterprise cloud space.

HP and IBM have their own storage and server offerings (IBM’s x86 offerings are all Lenovo now since they sold them off, but whatever) – but they don’t have the virtualization platform to bring it about in a soup-to-nuts way. Of course, HP and IBM will happily put VMware onto servers they sell you (IBM will also happily sell you non-x86 gear with their pSeries and zSeries stuff, but those are discussions for another day).

HP Helion and IBM Bluemix are interesting. But not as interesting, in my opinion, as Amazon’s AWS, OpenStack, and other offerings from !HP and !IBM.

Oracle is really the only main competition to the hybrid Dell-EMC company which will emerge, via their acquisition of Sun a few years ago (which is also a whole other conversation).

It’ll be interesting to see how the future HPE will try to compete against future Dell.

Tarus Balog : A Wonderful OUCE

October 10, 2015 11:55 PM

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but the fourth quarter is always our busiest time of the year and I’ve been slammed. Plus, I’m still recovering from a great week at the OpenNMS Users Conference. You did go, correct? (grin)

We are always striving to find ways to bring more people to the conference, so this year I thought it would be cool to invite some open source celebrities, namely the guys from the Bad Voltage podcast. Plus, since this year’s conference was in September, we had the opportunity to make a side trip to Munich’s Oktoberfest.

We arrived in Fulda from Munich on Sunday night. Now in the run up to the conference the BV team would sometimes talk a little smack about Fulda (as in “where the hell is Fulda?”, etc.) but I love this town. It is a wonderful combination of old and new, with cobblestone streets and a beautiful cathedral. You can walk everywhere, and for us the fact that the university (the Hochschule) has great facilities makes it an awesome place to hold the OUCE.

Since we rely on the Hochschule we have to schedule the conference during a time when the students are not on campus. While it is usually held in the Spring, this year it got moved to Autumn. I think the weather is about the same, although we did have a snow storm during one OUCE.

The conference itself is two days long, but we put two days of optional training in front of it. I get to teach an OpenNMS “bootcamp” on Monday that attempts to cover most of the basics in a day. So fresh off of Oktoberfest I had to actually work on Monday.

The class went well, if a bit long. The students were some of the best I’ve ever had, and I don’t think we hit many snags except for the occasional typo. As much as I tried to hurry, it still took us about ten hours to cover the material. OpenNMS is such a huge platform that even the basics take time to go over, and perhaps next year I’ll ask the students to do some work before getting to the classroom.

We had about half of the team together for dinner that night, and I got to have some of the dark German beer I like (in this case, Köstritzer). I called it a night early on, although many of the guys headed to a small bar called “The Eck”, which was apparently a lot of fun.

On the second day of training, Jeff and Jesse discussed some of the more advanced features in OpenNMS. I slept in a bit and then worked with the Bad Voltage team to make sure everything was working for the show on Wednesday. This included making sure Bryan Lunduke could access and use the telepresence robot.

OUCE Robot

Normally when we hold the OUCE in Fulda we have access to a student run establishment called Cafe Chaos. Unfortunately this year it is being remodeled, so we had to make our own set up in Halle 8.


It was pretty cool. We had a large refrigerator for drinks and they set up some couches in the back corner. Being at the University, the bandwidth was stellar.

On Tuesday night Nethinks sponsored a meal at the Havanna Bar. Most people had arrived by then, so it was nice to get together. Many thanks to Uwe and his team for putting this on.

Wednesday was the first full day of the conference. I kicked things off with a “State of OpenNMS” keynote, with an introduction by Alex Finger, the man who pretty much created the OpenNMS Foundation.


I thought the talk went pretty well, and thanks to the A/V team at the University you can see it in all of its glory:

After that I could relax and let the rest of the gang take over. There were plenty of amazing talks, and you can catch them all on Youtube.

Speaking of Youtube, Wednesday night was the Bad Voltage Live show. I plan to review that in a separate post, but it was a lot of fun. We ran a bunch of errands Wednesday afternoon in preparation, which mainly included buying a tablet to use as a prize and beer … lots of beer.


On Thursday we had more talks, and then, sadly, the conference had to come to an end. Those of us who were still around helped tear down Halle 8. It looked really empty when we were finished.

OUCE Closing

We then headed off to the Wiesenmühle for one final gathering before going our separate ways.

If you like OpenNMS then you really should make plans to come to the OUCE. Next year will be held at about the same time at the same place, so reserve space on your calendar now.

In the meantime, there are two more conferences left in the year where OpenNMS will be presenting. In a week you’ll find us at All Things Open in Raleigh, NC, USA, and in November Ronny and I will be at the Open Source Monitoring Conference in Nürnberg.

Hope to see you at one or all of these.

Warren Myers : plogging?

October 09, 2015 07:48 PM

Wired Magazine recently had an article on the rise of “plogging“.

By their definition, “plogging” is “PLatform blOGGING” – or blogging as part of a network/site/service (DZone, LinkedIn, Medium, Facebook, etc) instead of running your own blog somewhere (, Blogger, self-hosted WordPress, etc).

This seems to be a modern representation of what newspapers, magazines, etc used to be (and still are, to some extent) – a place where you can find your favorite authors all in one place.

There certainly are benefits to this model – but there is also a loss of a sense of personal connection in such a model. As I wrote before, the facebookification of society has some pros and cons. One of those cons is that companies increasingly (and now, apparently, writers) are branding on the platform/network instead of via their own site and service.

The instant network aspect of “plogging” has appeal – otherwise why would Sett exist? Or Stumbleupon? Or any of myriad other networking sites and services.

Heck, remember back in the Good Ole Days when you had link sharing and webrings?

This also plays into the walled garden effect that AOL had 20 years ago: as I wrote yesterday, Facebook is merely the new AOL. Writing in an established (or establishing) network makes a great deal of sense – an “instant” audience, the “rising tide” effect, etc.

But it also means you are bound, for better or worse, to the rules and regulations, guidelines and gaffes of the site/service you decide to write on and with. Community building is hard. Administering built communities is hard. And it doesn’t get any easier by deciding to go all-in with a “platform”. (It may not be any harder, either – but it’s not quantitatively eased by any stretch.)

Forum tools have been around since the dawn of time. And every one has had its rules. From the Areopagus to Stack Overflow, synagogues to the Supreme Court, every community has its rules. Rules which you may either choose to abide by, petition to change, or ignore (to your “detriment”, at least in the context of continuing to participate in said community).

I guess it’s like they say, “what’s new is old again”.

Tarus Balog : GrafanaCon in NYC with Jesse White

October 09, 2015 06:44 PM

Just a quick note to point out that GrafanaCon is next week in NYC.


It’s a free, one evening conference that promises to be a lot of fun.

OpenNMS’s very own Jesse White will be discussing the amazing API he wrote to put OpenNMS collected data into the Grafana dashboard in a talk called “Tales of a Custom Data Source” at 6:45pm. If Grafana didn’t exist, we’d have to write it, and we probably couldn’t have done as good a job as they did.

If you want to see the future of data visualization, don’t miss this conference. Plus you get to see how we plan to display all of the billions of “Internet of Thingies” data points OpenNMS will be storing in Newts.

Warren Myers : facebook is aol

October 08, 2015 05:58 PM

Facebook is AOL.

Yes, that AOL.

America Online.

The one that advertised 20 years ago in conjunction with companies things like, “search AOL keyword ‘ford'”.

That’s what Facebook is now. It’s AOL – but without the ISP aspect.

Check that – Facebook is (or “has”) an ISP: just look at

So we’ve come full circle.

The ISP that millions of Americans used to get online, send email, chat, read news, keep up with friends, follow/participate in chat rooms, and see “the web” (through an extremely walled garden, mind you) has been replaced wth a website that hundreds of millions of people around the world use to send messages, chat, read news, keep up with friends, participate in groups, and, apparently, get online (if you’re in a part of the world Facebook is targeting with its ISP, of course).

Warren Myers : subaru isn’t groveling

October 05, 2015 07:27 PM

Subaru released a new vehicle in the Japanese market recently called the Levorg (I saw it on Samurai Wheels on NHK World). It stands for LEgacy reVOlution touRinG.

It also spells “grovel” backwards.

From the review Samurai Wheels gave it, it certainly doesn’t grovel.

But it also purports to do something relatively difficult. Subaru has introduced EyeSight in this vehicle which uses cameras to offer assistive driving (automatic braking, automatic following, etc).

The interesting thing about this (and they are cameras), is that video processing is difficult. It is far easier to use something like FLIR, LIDAR, or ultrasonic sonar or another technique than it is to use object tracking in a video stream.

Which makes me wonder if Subaru is doing pure video object tracking, or if it’s combined with something else to make it work as well as it seemed to in the review I watched recently.

Mark Turner : Little kids in Japan are independent – Business Insider

October 04, 2015 09:54 PM

There are no helicopter parents in Japan.

It’s a common sight on Japanese mass transit: children troop through train cars, singly or in small groups, looking for seats.

They wear knee socks, polished patent leather shoes, and plaid jumpers, with wide-brimmed hats fastened under the chin and train passes pinned to their backpacks. The kids are as young as six or seven, on their way to and from school, and there is nary a guardian in sight.

Source: Little kids in Japan are independent – Business Insider

Eric Christensen : RFC: Using video conferencing for GPG key signing events

September 24, 2015 03:17 PM

A thought that I haven’t had a chance to fully consider (so I’m asking the Internet to do that for me)…

I have a geographically-diverse team that uses GPG to provide integrity of their messages.  Usually, a team like this would all huddle together and do a formal key-signing event.  With several large bodies of water separating many of the team members, however, it’s unlikely that we could even make that work.

The alternative I thought of was using a video chat meeting to facilitate the face-to-face gathering and exchange of information.  There are obviously some risks, here, but I wonder if those risks are suitably mitigated through the use of authenticated/encrypted links to the video chat system?  Can anyone point to why this would be a bad idea?

Mark Turner : NC budget is a fiscally responsible Goldilocks document | News & Observer

September 24, 2015 02:22 PM

N&O contributor J. Peder Zane sometimes gets it right (see Confederate monument) but the rest of the time he lives in a libertarian paradise that, frankly, doesn’t exist.

Read how he pooh poohs the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit, calling its repeal a “free market prod.” Well, it’s news to me that Duke Energy’s state-chartered monopoly on electricity is a “free market.” I was never the best student but I do seem to recall learning in school how a monopoly is pretty much the opposite of a free market.

I can’t wait to get this electricity free market that Zane promises. I’m sure that killing off competition is the best way to get it, right J. Peder?

Allowing the renewable energy investment tax credit to expire may be the best thing to happen to the green sector. Replacing the crutch of state support with the free market’s prod is our best hope of developing cheap, efficient renewables. It also addresses the fact that these well-intentioned subsidies have become a form of crony capitalism, sopped up by big corporations.

Source: NC budget is a fiscally responsible Goldilocks document | News & Observer

Mark Turner : Why Republicans are starting to panic, in 1 paragraph – The Washington Post

September 24, 2015 02:14 PM

Summer is over. And Donald Trump is — still — at the top of the 2016 Republican primary field.That makes lots and lots of Republicans with an eye on winning the White House in 2016 (or even 2020) very, very nervous.

That unease — and its origins — are explained brilliantly in this paragraph, taken from a broader piece entitled “The GOP is Killing Itself,” by former Bush administration official Pete Wehner:

The message being sent to voters is this: The Republican Party is led by people who are profoundly uncomfortable with the changing (and inevitable) demographic nature of our nation. The GOP is longing to return to the past and is fearful of the future. It is a party that is characterized by resentments and grievances, by distress and dismay, by the belief that America is irredeemably corrupt and past the point of no return. “The American dream is dead,” in the emphatic words of Mr. Trump.

Source: Why Republicans are starting to panic, in 1 paragraph – The Washington Post

Eric Christensen : Encryption you don’t control is not a security feature

September 23, 2015 02:55 PM

Catching up on my blog reading, this morning, led me to an article discussing Apple’s iMessage program and, specifically, the encryption it uses and how it’s implemented.  Go ahead and read the article; I’ll wait.

The TL;DR of that article is this: encryption you don’t control is not a security feature.  It’s great that Apple implemented encryption in their messaging software but since the user has no control over the implementation or the keys (especially the key distribution, management, and trust) users shouldn’t expect this type of encryption system to actually protect them.

For Apple, it’s all about UI and making it easy for the user.  In reality, what they’ve done is dumbed down the entire process and forced users to remain ignorant of their own security.  Many users applaud these types of “just make it work and make it pretty” interfaces but at the same time you end up with an uneducated user who doesn’t even realize that their data is at risk.  Honestly, it’s 2015… if you don’t understand information security… well, to quote my friend Larry “when you’re dumb, you suffer”.

Yes, that’s harsh.  But it’s time for people to wake up and take responsibility for their naked pictures or email messages being publicized.  I’m assuming most everyone makes at least a little effort toward physically securing their homes (e.g. locking doors and windows).  Why shouldn’t your data be any less protected?

In comparison, I’ll use Pidgin and OTR as an example of a better way to encrypt messaging systems.  OTR doesn’t use outside mechanisms for handling keys, it clearly displays whether or not a message is simply encrypted (untrusted) or whether you’ve verified the key, and it’s simple to use.

One thing I’ll say about Apple’s iMessage is that it at least starts to fix the problem.  I’d rather have ciphertext being sent across the network than plaintext.  Users just need to understand what the risks are and evaluate whether they are okay with those risks or not.

Mark Turner : Filmmakers fighting “Happy Birthday” copyright find their “smoking gun” | Ars Technica

September 23, 2015 12:56 PM

A judge has ruled that Warner/Chappell’s claim of the song “Happy Birthday” is invalid and the song is in the public domain. This has long been a notable case of copyright abuse and it’s thrilling to see it finally corrected.

It’s been two years since filmmakers making a documentary about the song “Happy Birthday” filed a lawsuit claiming that the song shouldn’t be under copyright. Now, they have filed (PDF) what they say is “proverbial smoking-gun evidence” that should cause the judge to rule in their favor.

The “smoking gun” is a 1927 version of the “Happy Birthday” lyrics, predating Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright by eight years. That 1927 songbook, along with other versions located through the plaintiffs’ investigations, “conclusively prove that any copyright that may have existed for the song itself… expired decades ago.”

Source: Filmmakers fighting “Happy Birthday” copyright find their “smoking gun” | Ars Technica

Tarus Balog : The Inverter: Episode 50 – Automated

September 23, 2015 12:22 PM

The latest Bad Voltage show, episode 50, was titled “Automated”. It marked a milestone, fifty episodes is a lot and the gang deserves credit for making it that far, and I was surprised they didn’t talk about it. That’s professionals for ya, just another show.

TL;DR: I didn’t really care for this show that much. Now, to me, Bad Voltage is like sex: when it’s good, it’s really good, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good, so please don’t tear into me too roughly for not praising it (see how I got “rough sex” into your brain and into the search engines?). This episode was a little more navel gazing than normal. They revisited the Mycroft Kickstarter (and now on Indiegogo), and then moved on to an interview that I thought was unnecessarily brutal. Many geeks are not the most socially gifted people on the planet and being on a podcast, even one like Bad Voltage, can make them extremely nervous and anxious. Considering that this was supposed to be a friendly interview I found it a little painful. Then there was a home automation “Internet of Things” discussion that I found too high level than I would of liked, and the episode ended with Jono’s review of a standing desk.

The show clocked in at seconds under ninety minutes. There is a large variation in times for these podcasts, and I’m happy listening to the team for as long as they are willing to talk, but the shows I like the most seem to be a little more focused, regardless of the length.

This episode started off with the announcement of the birth of Bryan’s second child, a boy named Solomon. It is the main reason he won’t be joining us in person for next week’s live Bad Voltage show, but congratulations are still in order.

The first segment was a discussion of the Mycroft project, which is attempting to create an open source Siri-like digital assistant. Yes, they discussed this on the last show as well, and while the Kickstarter has ended they have an Indiegogo campaign going on as well. I am eager to see what comes of this, but not willing to fund it at the moment. The last time I funded something, the open source fitness Angel Sensor, they took my money and it’s now a year overdue. Not really complaining (if I were complaining I’d be upset that the first app they plan to release is iOS only) but it kind of burned me on these kinds of things.

Still a cool idea, and it may be possible to eliminate any privacy concerns I might have. I need to help out by offering to read some stuff on Librevox as Aq suggests.

The second segment was an interview with Chris Waid. It turns out that the FCC is unhappy that, with software defined radios, one can increase the power in such a fashion that it violates the broadcast license for the device. For example, you could extend your WiFi range using the same gear through software. They want to stop this, but the concern is that the easiest way to do this would be to lock down the firmware for these devices, which would rule out things like installing alternative firmware on your home router, or perhaps even running free software on computers and laptops, as access to the WiFi and Bluetooth chips could be prevented.

While I’m in the camp that this is more a poorly thought out proposal on the part of the FCC than the FCC trying to be malicious, there is a chance this could be a Bad Thing™ and we should take steps to prevent it. However, in their zeal to get to the meat of this problem the team went a little overboard on poor Chris. Even when a guy in the room with Chris tried to help out, the immediate thought was that Chris was being corrected by one of his own guys (which wasn’t the case). Sure, it would have been funny, but Chris just got more flustered and the message got lost.

Now I’m all for skewering the bad guys, although I prefer it be done nicely as in the style of Jon Stewart, but this wasn’t a bad guy. At worst he is overstating the threat a bit, but compared to some of the jewels the US government has put forth in the past concerning technology, overstating the threat is worse than understating it. They do apologize, somewhat, at the end of the show, but the whole segment made me a little uncomfortable.

There was a short segment by Jeremy, resident home automation geek, about a project to mount a tablet inside a bathroom mirror. Not sure if there is a killer app for such a thing, but I have been in hotels with TVs in the mirror so it has possibilities.

The third segment was a discussion of home automation and “The Internet of Things”. A lot of it involved discussing all of the competing protocols and solutions, to the point where Jeremy needs several different hubs just to talk to everything. At the moment it is more like “The Internet of Silos”.

I was surprised no one mentioned X10. Any one of my three readers remember this? It was a home automation protocol that worked by sending signals over the home electrical wiring. I once had tons of the stuff: light switches, controllers, even a device that you could stick under your analog thermostat to turn on the air conditioning. It worked by turning on a small heating element that would make the thermostat think it was hotter than it was. Plus, no cameras or microphones phoning home with who knows what information to third party servers.

Those were the days.

The last segment was Jono reviewing a standing desk he bought. Standing desks are all the rage now, and he wanted to try one out so he bought one by LIFT. We got a bunch of movable desks from Varidesk at the office, and I quite like them. I do agree with Jono that if you are serious about them you need a floor pad.

While it wasn’t my favorite BV, I did enjoy it. It’s not like I want 90 minutes of my life back ‘n all. They also didn’t mention the morse code message from the previous episode and I’ve been too lazy to find out what was up with that. I like little Easter eggs. Perhaps they should come up with a contest where each week clues are hidden in the podcast, and if you put them together you win a laptop or something else cool.

Remember, the next show will be Live at the OpenNMS Conference in Fulda, Germany. We still have a few seats left, and if the 5€ fee is an issue, please drop me a note. We can work something out, and there will be beer.

Tarus Balog : Review: Varidesk Standing Desk

September 22, 2015 09:43 PM

Several years ago we did a lot of work in Sweden (Hi, Lasse!), and that is where I first saw some really nice standing desks. The first standing desk I ever saw was when I worked at Northern Telecom and it was for an employee who needed one due to health reasons, but it was fixed in place. The ones they had in Sweden (from IKEA, ‘natch) had a little switch that you could use to raise and lower it as needed, and they had places to mount a PC and run cables so they wouldn’t get snagged when it moved.

When I looked for them for the office, I was shocked by the price. A decent one with options pushed $900 and they could go north of $2000 fully loaded. While I’ve read a lot about the health benefits of standing I just couldn’t afford to get such a desk.

Recently I was on an American Airlines flight, and I just happened to see a small ad for something called a Varidesk in the in-flight magazine (and I’ve never bought something from the back of an in-flight magazine). This was something you put on an existing desk and you could use it to lift a monitor, keyboard, etc. to a standing height. It was manual, but it was considerably less than a dedicated desk.

Now, being the CEO of a profitable company it is required that I have the huge executive desk, so I do. Of course, mine was free from a business that was moving offices and all I had to do was go get it, and then repair all of the broken bits so I could put it back together. My monitor sits in one corner of this monstrosity, and I was happy to see Varidesk made a product that would fit perfectly.

Varidesk Lowered

First off, the sucker’s heavy. It cost a lot to ship due to its weight, but that translates to a lot of stability when raised. The unit I bought had a shelf for the monitor, speakers, etc., with a lower shelf for the keyboard.

In the upper shelf you will notice two holes. You place your hands through them to release levers which will allow you to raise the desk. It does take strength to get it started, but then it is balanced so that it becomes easier.

(Note: the little green light on my PC is my OpenNMS Blink notification)

Varidesk Raised

I love that everything comes up with it: the speakers, the monitor, the keyboard, my Yeti mic, etc. It will also go fairly high – I’m a little over six feet tall and I can get it high enough that I’m comfortable using it. It isn’t perfectly stable, if you are energetically pounding on the keyboard it will move slightly, but it is easy to get use to it. I did have to get some USB cable extenders to make sure things like my camera didn’t go flying off when I raised the desk, but outside of that it pretty much worked out of the box.

And, yes, when standing I like to crank the tunes and dance. You do not want to see me dance.

The Varidesk is well built and I did find myself using it, so some of the other guys in the office were interested. They don’t have fancy executive desks, so I got a slightly cheaper model that fit theirs better.

Varidesk Developers

We bought three more and everyone seems to enjoy them, although we probably don’t use them as much as we should. Because they are stylish and convertible, even in the down position they look good.

I found that after about an hour of standing my legs started to hurt. Our office, like many, is pretty much industrial carpet over concrete. There is little padding, so I bought a pad on Amazon that works well for me and I can dance longer.

It’s also cool to elevate the laptop for our daily scrum call:

Varidesk During Scrum

So, if you are thinking about getting a standing desk but already own a desk, consider the Varidesk. While it isn’t the cheapest thing out there, it is well made and will give you experience to see if you even like working standing up, which would be considerably cheaper than buying a new desk and finding you didn’t like it.

Warren Myers : show only most recent facebook news feed

September 22, 2015 08:53 PM

(Note: I did this in Chrome – it’ll be a little different in other browsers)

I have several complaints about the book of the face – not least of which is that it likes to reset your News Feed from “Most Recent” (aka most useful) to “Top Stories” (aka whatever Facebook wants you to see).

I also like to avoid the fluff off the other columns (ads, games, groups, pages, chat, etc) when all I want is the most recent stream. So, after some searching, fiddling, and tweaking, I now have my news feed (and only my news feed) appear on the side of my screen in chronological order.

How to do what I did:

  • install the Auto Refresh extension for Chrome (only if you want the news feed to automatically update)
  • go to (this is the mobile Facebook view sorted by chronological order) in a new window (not new tab)
  • right-click on the tab holding the mobile Facebook feed, and select Pin Tab
  • click the Auto Refresh extension button and select how often you want your feed to refresh, and click Start
  • resize the window to a comfortable reading width (mine is about 15% of my screen, or about 3″)
  • slide it all the way to one side of your screen or another
  • enjoy

There are some other ways to accomplish more-or-less the same thing:

  • bookmark the mobile news feed URL
  • set the mobile news feed URL as your home page
  • sign-in to your Facebook account in more than one browser (instead of having two windows in one browser), and load the mobile edition therein

Hope this helps you like it’s helped me.

Warren Myers : wsj thinks apple will make and sell cars

September 22, 2015 06:22 PM

Dallas News thought so back in March (see here).

And I predicted it back in February.

Now WSJ thinks so.

Mark Turner : Jimmy John’s CEO under fire for alleged hunting photos – Business Insider

September 21, 2015 06:29 PM

I will never eat at Jimmy John’s again.

Jimmy John’s founder and CEO Jimmy John Liautaud is under fire after photos of him allegedly posing with dead elephants, a rhinoceros, and a leopard appeared on the internet. The photographs, allegedly taken during a 2010 safari in Africa, have sparked calls for a boycott of the sandwich chain, Grub Street reports.

Source: Jimmy John’s CEO under fire for alleged hunting photos – Business Insider

Mark Turner : The Penguin Tamer moves on

September 18, 2015 01:30 PM

On Monday, I put in my notice at my current job in preparation of starting a new adventure next month. It was a decision I made with much regret as I loved the work, the team, and the company. What I didn’t like was being awakened by my pager on countless nights as some production system or another at work melted down. That, and the several weekends of marathon maintenance work, some keeping me awake all night. I have been hit hard enough lately with the Gulf War Illness fatigue that I couldn’t pile on weeks of guaranteed disrupted sleep. It was affecting my health, it was disturbing my wife’s sleep, too, and taking family time away from me on those work-filled weekends. Unfortunately, no other relief was in sight other than to change jobs.

It wasn’t log into my job search that I realized just how in-demand my skills were. My resume on CareerBuilder attracted 2-3 job opportunities each day. Unfortunately, many of those were generated by lazy recruiters doing keyword searches and consisted of far-flung jobs that often didn’t match my skills or interests. On the bright side, several actual, clueful recruiters did reach out to me with decent opportunities. One of them wrote that this was the hottest IT job market his firm has seen in years, and I believe it. Actual quote:

We are in the strongest market for IT careers that we’ve ever seen and will be sending out lots of emails today.

I was quickly drowning in job leads, and the home phone was ringing off the hook. I couldn’t deal with the attention, particularly since most of it was noise. So, I did what any good sysadmin would do and created an automated solution! I used site-specific email addresses on the resumes I posted and funnelled them to a procmail script which responded to each one. In this response, I spelled out exactly what I was looking for and put to rest any questions of whether I’d be interested in working in East Armpit, Illinois. Occasionally, a non-robot recruiter would respond, thanking me for the response that spelled out what was what. Most of them I never heard from again, including many (apparently offshore) recruiters who had clue that Charlotte was not in commuting distance from Raleigh.

To keep the home phone from ringing at all hours, I dusted off one my seldom-used spare phone numbers and had calls to it go directly to voicemail, where my outgoing announcement there spelled out what kind of work I’d be interested in doing. To date, I have 16 pending messages there which I’ll get around to listening to eventually. Maybe.

Screening these opportunities was one of the smartest things I did in my job search, allowing me to focus on only those that were the best fit. The best part is that now I’m off the job market, I can simply pull the plug on the custom phone number and email addresses and instantly end the recruiter harassment! Ah, peace!

CareerBuilder may have been king of job leads quantity but it was Dice that actually landed me my upcoming job. A recruiter found me there and got me connected with this Raleigh software firm. Things just fell into place from there! The work is interesting, the pay and benefits are better, and the commute is within easy walking distance of my home. Most importantly, the company highly encourages their people’s pursuit of public service. This is one thing I could not work out with my current boss, so I’m quite pleased that this came about.

So, while I’m sorry I had to make this move I’m happy with the upcoming adventure. The future is bright indeed!

Warren Myers : “like” problems: social ‘voting’ is a bad idea

September 16, 2015 05:30 PM

The news story making the rounds about Facebook the past few days indicates they’re working on a kind of “dislike” button.

The problem with the Facebook “like” button is the same problem Google has with Google+ and their “+1” button: it doesn’t tell you anything meaningful.

Voting on Reddit doesn’t really convey much meaning, either.

Stack Overflow tries to address this with its up/down voting and being able to see the gestalt votes as a ratio (if your rep is high enough (an admittedly low bar, but till a bar, and an aspect of the gamification of Stack Oveflow)). But that doesn’t really cut it, either.

The problem with online “voting” (or “liking”, or “plussing”, etc) is that it is a dimensionless data point.

Does getting 300 “likes” on a post make it “good”? Does it reflect on its quality in any way? How about getting nearly 400 upvotes (and only a handful of downvotes) on a question about MySQL (along with 100+ “favorites”) mean the question is good? Does it show something is popular? Are people clicking the vote mechanism out of peer pressure, because they actually agree, or because they think it needs more visibility?

Dimensionless data that gets used as if it has meaning is a problem – one of many problems of social media and web sites in general.

Of course, you will object, quality is a potentially-subjective term – what does “quality” mean, exactly, when talking about a post, website, question, etc? Is it how well-written it is? Is it how long? How funny? How sad?

Take this question I asked on Stack Overflow, “CSS – how to trim text output?” It’s clearly-written, was answered excellently in 2 minutes, and is a “real” problem I had. Yet in the 4.5 years since asking, it’s only gotten 2 votes total (both “up”, but still only two).

Reddit has upvotes and downvotes – and your comment/post score is merely the sum of the ups and downs; below a certain [relative] threshold, you won’t see content unless you ask for it.

One of the biggest problems with all of these systems is that the “score” doesn’t actually tell you anything. An atheist subreddit, for example, will tend to downvote-into-oblivion comments that are theistic in nature (especially from Christians). Quora‘s voting system is highly untransparent – downvotes don’t really seem to mean much, and upvotes are pretty much just for show.

This derives from the fact that these sites use dimensionless data and try to give it a value or meaning outside of what it really is – a number.

What should be shown is the total number of “votes” a given post has gotten – positive negative, reshare, etc – but never combined. A ratio could be displayed, but the sum of the votes is a poor plan.

Facebook, Google+, and others should offer various voting options – “up”, “down”, “disagree”, “agree”, “share”, and possibly others – some of which may be mutually-exclusive (you cannot upvote and downvote the same thing), but you might downvote something you agree with (or upvote something you disagree with) just because of how it is written/presented, etc.

And the total of each type of click should be shown – show me 10,000 people disagreed with what I said, 15,000 agreed; 20,000 upvoted, and 30,000 downvoted; 12,000 reshared it (with, or without, comment).

Using voting as a means of hiding things (and trying to prevent others from seeing them) can be somewhat akin to online bullying – revenge voting has its problems; as does blindly upvoting anything a particular person says/does. Which is why assigning (and then displaying) dimensionless data anything more than a count is dangerous.