Tarus Balog : 2015 O’Reilly Open Source Conference

July 28, 2015 07:52 PM

I think this year marks the eighth OSCON I’ve attended. I’m not sure of that, but I am sure that every year I can meet up with a number of interesting people that I just don’t see elsewhere.

I used to get the conference pass so I could see the presentations, and while they tend to be of a very high quality, I often found myself spending most of my time outside of those rooms, either on the Expo floor or just sitting and talking, so this year I just got the Expo pass.

OSCON 2015 - Entrance

I have a love/hate relationship with OSCON. It seems to be skewed toward large companies, and this year was no exception.

I got to see the jugglers at Paypal:

OSCON 2015 - Paypal

(Note: Jason, who used to work with us at OpenNMS, is now at Paypal and so I get to hear about some of the stuff they are doing around open source it is pretty exciting).

and Microsoft was back with the photo booth:

OSCON 2015 - Microsoft

There were also some smaller companies in attendance. I had to go by and say “hi” to the Atlassian team as we happily use a number of their products to make OpenNMS happen, such as Bamboo and Jira:

OSCON 2015 - Atlassian

and it was nice to run into Chris Aniszczyk, the open source guy at Twitter.

OSCON 2015 - Chris Aniszczyk

I had not talked to Chris since last year’s OSCON and it was cool to learn that he’s doing well.

One thing I’ve been looking at for OpenNMS is the best configuration platform with which to integrate. It is hard to choose between Puppet, Chef, Ansible and Salt (and we should probably do all four) but if the choice was solely based on the friendliest staff Chef would probably win.

OSCON 2015 - Chef

I never did get the full story on what happened with their booth.

Right around the corner was the Kaltura booth with its incredibly shy and withdrawn Director of Marketing, Meytal:

OSCON 2015 - Meytal Burstein

She was also at CLS and our paths crossed a lot, and I’m certain I’ll run into her in the future. Oh, and if you want her opinion, you’ll have to drag it out of her.

(Note: some of the above is not true)

OSCON 2015 - CDK Global

It was also cool to see a booth for CDK Global. CDK was formed by merging Cobalt and ADP Dealer Services, and the latter uses OpenNMS. Sam (the guy in the middle) was also a Frontalot fan, so we got along well.

I spent most of my time off to the side of the Expo floor on a row I called the “Geek Ghetto”. These are booths that OSCON offers to open source projects and organizations. It was cool to see that it was almost always packed with people.

OSCON 2015 - Geek Ghetto

I got to talk to the team at the Linuxfest Northwest. This is one conference I have yet to attend but I’m going to make an effort to get there next year. I’m hoping to convince the Bad Voltage guys to come along and do a live show (they will be with us at the OUCE this September in Germany)

OSCON 2015 - Linuxfest Northwest

Next to them was a booth from the EFF. Maggie, who was at the anniversary show in San Francisco, was also doing booth duty at OSCON.

OSCON 2015 - EFF

I believe in what the EFF is doing so it was nice to get to talk with them.

Last year I spent a lot of time learning about Free Geek:

OSCON 2015 - Free Geek

and it was nice to chat with them again. If you are in a Free Geek city, you should get involved.

It was good to see a large number of women in attendance, although it was still not reflective of the population as a whole. One group working to change that is Chicktech:

OSCON 2015 - Chicktech

Note that my picture got photobombed by “Open Source Man”.

Also in the Geek Ghetto was the Software Freedom Conservancy, run in part by Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler. I think highly of them both and enjoyed the time I got to spend with them.

OSCON 2015 - Karen Sandler

Now, I should probably explain my shirt.

Bryan Lunduke is one-fourth of the Bad Voltage team. While I have known Jono Bacon for some time, I didn’t get to meet Jeremy Garcia or Stuart Langridge until this year’s SCaLE conference. I never got to meet Bryan. To be honest, a lot of these “meetings” happened in bars and Bryan doesn’t drink, and I did try to get his attention on the show floor but he obviously didn’t hear me.

Then I was on the Bad Voltage podcast talking about OpenNMS. This was an episode where Bryan was ill, so outside of signing in to say he couldn’t do the show, I didn’t see much of him.

Finally, we are planning on having Bad Voltage come out to the OpenNMS User’s Conference this September. Bryan is expecting the arrival of his second child, so he had to beg off.

Now I just see these things as coincidences, but the guys in the office suggested the real reason is that Bryan hates me. Jessica, our graphic designer, took the bait and made up a graphic, and my friend Jason at Princredible printed a few really nice shirts.

I wanted to meet up with him in Portland, but he was only at CLS the second day (I was there the first). He was at OSCON on Wednesday. I wandered around the Expo floor trying to find him but we could never meet up.

It started to become amusing. People would stop me and say “Bryan was just here looking for you”. After awhile I thought it might be even funnier if we never met, just circled each other at the conference and to this day we still haven’t stood next to each other (he and Jono did call me later in the day, but I had already left).

Anyway, if you think Bryan Lunduke hates you too, you can get a nifty shirt just like mine. Jason will take orders until 10 August. These are high quality shirts that are actually printed – the image is dyed into the fabric and not screened on top were it is likely to crack and peel.

OSCON 2015 - Jono Bacon

Speaking of Jono, he did an “Ask Me Anything” session and I was very eager to get some of the burning questions off my chest. Unfortunately, it was subtitled to limit the questions to things like “community management” and “leadership”. Mine were, to a fault, all obscenely biological.

I want to end this note with a picture of one of my favorite people, within or outside of open source, Stephen Walli.

OSCON 2015 - Stephen Walli

I usually only see him at OSCON, and while in his sunset years he has quieted down a bit (grin), I always welcome the time I get to spend with him.

Hope to see everyone in Austin in 2016, if not sooner.

Mark Turner : Dick Cheney chilling on Sept 11, 2001

July 26, 2015 02:05 AM

Dick Cheney kicking back on Sept. 11, 2001.

Dick Cheney kicking back on Sept. 11, 2001.


The National Archives released a series of photos taken by White House staff on the morning of Sept 11, 2001. A few of them show a very relaxed (perhaps even bored) Vice President Dick Cheney as scenes of carnage are shown on his television.

I find his lack of reaction very strange.

Mark Turner : Map of Triangle-area Google Fiber huts

July 25, 2015 08:56 PM

Google Fiber in the Triangle

Google Fiber in the Triangle


A News and Observer story alerted me to the recent approval by Raleigh City Council of 10 Google Fiber hut sites in the city. A quick look at the city council minutes showed me where they were. I took a few minutes this afternoon to map these sites onto Google Maps to get a better look at where Google Fiber might soon be deployed.

The result is this Google Map. I have since added the four sites in Cary and one in Morrisville which have already been approved. I searched for approval of sites in Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Garner but as far as I know these municipalities have not yet approved their sites. If someone learns that this has changed, please give me a heads up and I will add these sites to my map.

The upright Google Fiber bunnies signify fiber hut locations, while the horizontal bunnies indicate where conduit permits have been requested. I’ve also put an icon on Raleigh’s proposed Google FiberSpace at 518 W. Jones St in Glenwood South area.

Mark Turner : Trump’s mysterious appeal

July 25, 2015 08:39 PM

One of my conservative friends and former shipmates posted this the other day about Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy:

I’m probably going to lose a friend or two over this, but I’m really liking Trump. People will immediately dismiss him because they are democrats or extreme right wingers, but put parties aside and listen to what he’s saying. If you just say no because you’re not a republican, that’s ignorant. He makes more sense than anyone else running. He has the ties in Asia to work more effectively with China. He has the business knowledge to bring us back to the top. Before you jump up and say he filed bk, that was a smart business move. Many companies and individuals do that. Trump is the only person running that has the cajones to speak honestly and he’s making a lot of sense. I know exactly who in my friends list will think I’m crazy and call me an idiot, but there’s more at stake here than a decent hair cut. My gay friends took a brave stance coming out. My religious friends who post biblical scriptures are brave enough to face the non believers. I’m coming out and saying that I’m behind the Donald. Let the tomatoes fly.

His opinion is shared by surprisingly many of the conservative veterans I know, which is surprising considering many have been cheering him on after his comments regarding John McCain.

On one of the veteran-themed Facebook pages I visit, the moderator permitted a post or two praising Trump for his “commitment to veterans.” I suppose they didn’t seem to care that Trump isn’t a veteran himself and weaseled out of service in Vietnam by obtaining multiple draft deferments, even though he was once classified as a 1A candidate for that service. Trump somehow got a pass from them for insulting the service of John McCain.

I’m not happy about having to defend McCain, as he has shown slimy morals after his service (like leaving his ailing wife once he returned and had become a celebrity, after she had waited years for his return). He was a lousy pilot, too. Make no mistake, though: McCain’s service while in captivity was heroic. As for Trump’s service? Well, it is what it is.

As a Democrat, I was enjoying the curveball that Trump put into the Republican race. Now I’m just tired of the guy, and mystified more than ever how anyone would honestly consider this loser would be a good Commander in Chief.

Tarus Balog : Review: MC Frontalot with The Doubleclicks

July 25, 2015 06:00 PM

Best OSCON after-party ever! – Satisfied Customer

Even though OpenNMS has been around for over 15 years now, a lot of people, including open source people, don’t know we exist. In an attempt to fix that, we’ve been experimenting with various marketing efforts, and in keeping with our mission statement of “Help Customers – Have Fun – Make Money” we also want them to be fun.

I have a love/hate relationship with the O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) but I can be assured that many of my friends who are into free and open source software will be there. This year I thought it would be fun to host a concert featuring MC Frontalot. Not only is his music awesome, it should appeal to many of the attendees. We lined up a venue (the amazing Dante’s) and an opening act, The Doubleclicks.

My one fear was that no one would show up, so I was relieved when I rushed from a previous meeting to Dante’s to find the place full, and by the time the show started it was packed.

Prior to setting this up, I had not heard of The Doubleclicks. Angela and Aubrey Webber are sisters who sing about geek things. Prior to the show I listened to a lot of their music, and since I was paying for this gig they even did one of my favorites, “This Fantasy World (Dungeons and Dragons)“. When they sang the lyric “and their primarily Windows-based computers” it got a big laugh.

The Doubleclicks

One thing we struggle with in the tech world in general and open source communities in particular is how to encourage more women to get involved. As a male dominated industry, women can face particular challenges. When The Doubleclicks sang “Nothing to Prove” I realized I couldn’t have asked for a better set list if I’d tried:

We read books, we played games, we made art, we watched Lost
We said things like “D20″, “shipping” and “Mana cost”
It felt good to be myself, not being mocked
Still self-conscious, though, we whispered things about jocks

But one day, you grow up, come into your own
Now geek’s not rejection – it’s a label I own
Then ignorant haters come to prove me wrong
Tell me I’m not nerdy enough to belong

I’ve got nothing to prove
I’ve got nothing to prove
I’ve got nothing to prove

This rang particularly true due to OSCON being hit with a “gamergate“-like attack for having Randi Harper speak. Considering the number of women at the show, I think we succeeded in promoting an all-inclusive environment.

After their great set, MC Frontalot and the band prepared to take the stage. This was the fourth Frontalot show I’d organized but the first with the band. The reason I hadn’t hired the whole band before was simple: it’s more expensive. Plus, from the videos I’d seen on the Intertoobz, I didn’t think they added all that much.

I was so wrong.

It’s hard to capture on video the energy these four gentlemen bring to the stage. The man driving the beat on drums is The Sturgenius (aka Sturgis Cunningham). Blak Lotus (aka Brandon Patton) is the whirling dervish on bass. I sat an watched him spin from stage left, often winding the cord to his bass around his legs and then unwinding it just in time to avoid tripping. Vic-20 (aka Ken Flagg) played wireless keytar, and while everyone was mic’d, turns out he has the voice of an angel and did the most duty on backup vocals.

MC Frontalot and Band

They played all of my favorites, such as “Critical Hit” and “Stoop Sale“, and while Front has always given 110% at my shows, being with the band brought out something more.

When I walked around OSCON inviting people to the show, a lot of people were psyched but I still got that weird “Nerdcore Hip Hop?” look from many. I don’t think that anyone who has seen them live could mistake them for anything other than truly original musical artists.

OCSON is moving to May and to Austin, Texas, next year, and my hope is to bring the band out again. And I do actually plan to write up my thoughts on OSCON itself, but as I got almost no sleep in the last week that will have to wait. The fourteen and a half hours I slept last night seemed to have helped a lot, though.

Mark Turner : Neighborhood hero Victor Spence passes away

July 24, 2015 02:25 AM

Victor_Spence-medium
Yesterday I worked from home and had the occasion to take Travis home from his camp at N.C. State. As we approached by the Bryan-Lee Funeral home on Wake Forest Road, I spotted a number of motorcyclists standing around near the street. Passing by, I saw a number of flags planted in the lawn of the funeral home and several motorcycles in the parking lot.

“I wonder what’s up with the flags,” I said to Travis. “It’s not a patriotic holiday. No famous politician died today. I wonder who this is for?”

Tonight I was sad to learn that the honoree was none other than my neighbor, Victor “Vic” Spence. Mr. Spence lived quietly and alone in the home that he built with G.I. Bill money at the corner of Monroe and Madison. I would sometimes see him as I walked the dog past his home. He would always smile and say hello and I’d do the same. Other times I’d see him driving slowly down the street in his dark blue Ford Crown Victoria, wearing his Marine Corps hat and on his way to his usual stool at the Fenton Street Dunkin Donuts. He was there so often that when the Dunkin Donuts finally closed last year the first thing I thought was “what will Mr. Spence do now?”

It was a little while after I’d met him that I learned what kind of a hero this man was. He was 16 years old when he joined the Marines and, after boot camp and a stint as a rifle instructor at Parris Island, Mr. Spence shipped out to Camp Pendleton and then to Hawaii before traveling five-days by ship to the island of Iwo Jima. He witnessed the famous Marine flag-raising on Mount Suribachi in the battle and was later wounded by a mortar that killed five of his friends.

After the war, he returned to Raleigh and got a job working at a sign company. Soon, he got a job with the Raleigh Police Department, serving 22 years. When he suddenly had to make a career move (messing around with the Chief’s wife, he said), he became a deputy with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office. Overall, he spent over 40 years in law enforcement.

The motorcyclists at Mr. Spence’s funeral were members of the Patriot Guard, there to salute his service. I think their gesture is wonderful but I can’t help but think this must have amused Mr. Spence since the four years he spent as a Raleigh motorcycle cop made him hate motorcycles! Regardless, he certainly deserved the honor!

After hearing the news of his death, I drove his house and stopped to chat with his daughter and son in law. Thinking of her father, Cindy Walls laughed and said “he was determined to leave this earth when he found out he could no longer drive.” She gave me directions to his gravesite which I will visit this weekend.

It was an honor to know Mr. Spence. His presence was always comforting to me, and I always looked for him whenever I’d walk by his home, hoping to get a wave. He was one of the Greatest Generation, to be sure, and the world is a better place because of men like him.

Here’s the link to the documentary on Mr. Spence that Cliff Bumgardner created in 2012.

Here’s Mr. Spence’s obituary from the Bryan-Lee Funeral Home site:

Victor Boyd Spence
12/31/1924 ~ 07/18/2015

Raleigh- Victor Boyd Spence, 90, died Saturday. Mr. Spence was born on December 31, 1924 to Oris Paschal Spence and Alie Womack Spence in Raleigh.

Vic served in the United States Marine Corps, 5th Division during World War II. In the Battle of Iwo Jima he received a Purple Heart Medal.

Victor was a Raleigh City Policeman and then a Wake County Deputy Sheriff where he retired in 1986 after 40 years of law enforcement service.

Mr. Spence was a 32nd Degree Mason at Hiram 40 Lodge and served as chaplain for several years.

Vic was preceded in death by his wife, Elizabeth Graves Spence; his brother, Carlos P. Spence; his sister, Julia Spence Hartsfield; and his nephew, Preston O. Spence.

He is survived by his two daughters, Cindy Spence Wall (Sonny) of Wilmington and Vicki Spence Painter of Apex: granddaughter, Robyn Wall Ormond (Grady) of Cary; nephews, Ronnie Hartsfield of Apex and Johnny Hartsfield of Raleigh; niece, Brenda Spence Heins of Gastonia; great nephews , William and Drew Hartsfield of Raleigh; great nieces, Kelly Parker Andrews of Gastonia, Christin Leigh Hartsfield Fejervary of Atlanta, GA, and Rhonda Hartsfield Parrish of Raleigh and their families.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, July 22, at 2 PM at Bryan-Lee Funeral Home, 831 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh. Burial with Masonic rites will follow at Historic Oakwood Cemetery. The family will receive friends prior to the service from Noon until 1:45 PM.

Flowers are welcome, or donations may be made to either Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, FL 32256 (www.woundedwarriorproject.org) or Homes For Our Troops, 6 Main Street, Taunton, MA 02780 (www.hfotusa.org).

Tarus Balog : 2015 OSCON MC Frontalot and Doubleclicks Party

July 23, 2015 07:19 PM

I just wanted to post a short note about tonight’s concert.

WHAT: MC Frontalot and The Doubleclicks
WHERE: Dante’s, Portland, OR, USA
WHY: To give back to our Free and Open Source Software Friends, and to promote OpenNMS
WHEN: Doors open at 8pm, Doubleclicks sometime after 9pm, Frontalot around 10pm

If you are still reading, OpenNMS has been able to get Frontalot to perform at a number of Linux conferences, but this is the first time we’ve been able to bring out the whole band (2015 is shaping up to be a good year). So in addition to the man himself, we have Blak Lotus on bass, The Sturgenius on drums and Vic-20 on the key-tar. This promises to explode with awesomeness.

Since this is Portland, we wanted to get a local group to open and The Doubleclicks were kind enough to join us. They are the sister duo of Angela and Aubrey Webber, who will entertain with their particular brand of nerd folk. I was introduced to their work just recently, and I think it will be the perfect way to start the evening.

We also want to thank O’Reilly for continuing to produce OSCON. In many cases, it is the only time in a year where I get to see friends of mine in person, and they bring together all different type of people from the free and open source community.

Finally, last but not least is Dante’s itself. The venue was kind enough to let us schedule this free event there, and while I’ve never been, I’ve only heard great things. The only downside is that I’ve been told it is somewhat small. Since we are not selling tickets, I have no idea how many people are showing up, but from the feedback I’ve been getting from OSCON attendees, we’ll probably pack the place.

To guarantee you get to see the show, doors open a 8pm, but since some of you might still be enjoying OSCON events at that time, please note that the show won’t start until sometime after 9pm, so we hope you can make it.

Oh, if you do come and like it, please give a nod to @opennms as we are working hard to correct the fact that it is the greatest open source project you have never heard of.

See you there.

Tarus Balog : Solution for One Trackpad Issue for the XPS 13

July 21, 2015 01:03 AM

My new laptop is the beautiful new Dell XPS 13 running Ubuntu Gnome 15.04.

It is not perfect, but it is getting close. Lightweight, beautiful screen and awesome battery life (nearly 8 hours the way I use it).

One thing that was killing me, though, was that after a certain amount of time (on the order of tens of minutes and not hours), the trackpad/clickpad thingie would start misbehaving under Gnome Shell, registering bogus clicks. There wasn’t an easy way to fix it outside of a) reboot or b) use an external mouse.

It seems that this issue has been addressed in the 4.1 kernel, so I decided to try it. I’m not sure if Ubuntu is going to support the 4 kernel series officially before 15.10 so I didn’t want to wait.

I downloaded the 4.1.1 kernel here (you’ll need three debs: the “all” headers deb and the image and headers debs for your CPU – I used “generic” and “amd64″), installed them with “sudo dpkg -i” and rebooted. The problem seems to be fixed.

But, my Broadcom wireless driver wouldn’t work. I had to download one more deb from here (via my phone – never play with kernels when you are on a long road trip), install it and now wireless is back.

Now if we could just get palm detection fixed …

Warren Myers : maggie

July 20, 2015 03:17 PM

It had such promise.

Or, should have.

How could you go wrong? Slow zombies. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A plot.

It was also direct-to-video.

What am I talking about? Maggie. The worst movie Ahnold has been in since End Of Days (and boy was that one bad).

No, it was worse than End Of Days.

I don’t know where to begin. So let’s start with the conclusion. It sucked. Bad. And not in the Red Heat kind of bad – more in the Gigli kind of bad.

The zombies in this movie are slow (a plus), but they also take weeks to turn into one after being bit (which, conveniently, gives the non-turned ample time to plan to eliminate them, and time for the turning to get their affairs in order before being dispatched). In the whole movie, I think, there’s only two encounters with “real” zombies – which could have lots of promise. Focusing on the humanity of the situation could have been good.

But it wasn’t. The pacing was atrocious. Good Night, and Good Luck was this slow, but for a reason. This movie was slow, I think, so that they could call it a “movie”. It’s listed at 95 minutes from IMDb. Pretty sure it’s really only about 52 minutes long.

And even that was about 41 minutes longer than it should have been.

I’ve only not seen a couple Arnie films – make sure you add this to your list of ones of his to skip.

Mark Turner : The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle – The New Yorker

July 20, 2015 12:30 PM

Here’s a terrifying story on the Cascadia Fault, which is overdue for an earthquake so devastating it will almost assuredly destroy Seattle. I love The New Yorker’s expert, in-depth writing.

When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time.

Source: The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle – The New Yorker

Tarus Balog : 2015 Community Leadership Summit

July 19, 2015 06:02 PM

I’ve been working full time with open source software for fourteen years, and I can remember a time when we were pretty much making everything up. No one had experience with this market which most of us now take for granted, and there were a lot of questions about dealing with an open source “community” versus paying customers for open source related software and services.

Out of this arose a role, for lack of a better word, called a “Community Manager”. It doesn’t quite fit since “manage” isn’t accurate. It is hard to apply old school management techniques to a group of sometimes anonymous volunteers, many of whom you might only know by a name such as “Zaxxon476″.

One of the first people to document this role was Jono Bacon. He was one of the leaders of the Ubuntu community, one of the larger of such communities in existence. He wrote a book called The Art of Community and he also founded the Community Leadership Summit (CLS) which meets the weekend before OSCON. Due to scheduling I have never been able to be there, but OpenNMS has been a sponsor every year it has been around.

CLS - Sponsors

This year I was finally able to attend, and I wasn’t disappointed. A large, eager group of people showed up, and I really enjoyed the diversity. Not only were women strongly represented (in both attendees and session leaders) there were many people from outside of the United States.

Jono kicked off the conference:

CLS - Jono Bacon, the delicious meat

with help from another amazing fellow, Stephen Walli:

CLS - Stephen Walli, the other white meat

The format was in the “unconference” style, meaning that the attendees set the agenda. After an initial group of planned 15-minute presentations, those people wanting to host a session would write a short description on a card, get up in front of everyone and announce the session, and then go post it on a large schedule “wall” in the main hallway.

I’ve been to a number of such conferences but rarely seen such participation levels. We actually ran out of Saturday spots, but in the true cooperative style a number of people were able to combine sessions so I think it all worked out.

CLS - Schedule

The whole event had a really good vibe. It wasn’t just open source people, either. The “open source way” can be applied to a number of different fields, and it had to be stressed that in any given session you couldn’t make assumptions about the open source knowledge of the people in the room. One woman discussed how she was dealing with mental illness, and an on-line community was key to her becoming healthy. Another woman was discussing how concepts from the formal study of psychology could be applied to make communities stronger. Even proprietary companies such as New Relic were there because the user community has become key to the success of almost any technology endeavor.

I got to make new friends and catch up with old ones, so I have to admit like many conferences I spent more time chatting in the hallway than in actual sessions (as some of those session were in the hallway, I had to be reminded that my voice carries. Ooops and sorry).

For high school I went to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and I constantly run into alumni in this field. OpenNMS’s own Seth Leger went there, as did Spot Callaway and Gina Likins from Red Hat. I got a cute picture of Gina (pronounced “Jenna”) with Ulf.

CLS - Gina Likins

It looks like the second day might even be stronger than the first, but unfortunately I won’t be able to make it. As OSCON is moving to Austin next year, it will be interesting to see how that changes CLS, and I plan to make every effort to be there.

Magnus Hedemark : Homelab Ketchup

July 19, 2015 12:18 AM

I’ve been busy busy busy geeking out in my homelab. Where did we leave off? Oh, yeah, I set up that Jenkins server.

I’ve been pretty busy since then.

  • Set up a server outside of my house to act as an OmniOS package repository.
  • After watching from the sidelines for years, I felt it was time to start taking Bitcoin seriously. I’ve been buying BTC, spending it, learning how it works.
  • Set up a Bitcoin full node inside of a kvm zone on one of my OmniOS servers. I threw a lot of resources at it while it downloaded the blockchain, which finished overnight. Then I scaled it down and it’s running in a small VM on a big machine.
  • bitcoind was making lots of little synchronous writes to my ZFS pool so I added an SSD. ~10GB for a slog, the remainder for L2ARC. It’s kind of neat to watch the writes queue up on the SSD and then flush out all at once (every several seconds) to the magnetic disks.
  • I’ve got a Jenkins job that builds and publishes packages of Git for OmniOS. But I’ve learned enough about CI to know that I want to do this a better (smarter) way, so I’m holding off on making my package repo public until I feel a lot better about what I’m building and how I’m building it.
  • I’ve got my kids’ Minecraft server running in an OmniOS zone, complete with an SMF manifest. I have great customer acceptance on this story.
  • I’m also building Tor on OmniOS but I haven’t taken the time to work up the SMF manifest yet. Also, I want to wrap some more scripting around the decision to build or not build based on Git commit tags.
  • I installed a PDU in the cabinet, but it was an awful experience and I’m ashamed of the final outcome. The tl;dr is that this specific PDU was never meant to be mounted in this specific cabinet.

Once I get the Tor packages building to my liking and I can get them published out, I have a series of articles that I’d like to write about using OmniOS as a platform for hosting Tor hidden services. Now that Freedom Hosting is gone. The raid on that hosting service has had a chilling effect on people who need an online presence under the safety of anonymity. SmartOS or even SDC might be even better for this purpose, but I need to get my hands on some more hardware to prove it out.

I’ve got a lot of other homelab projects all backed up now. So much to do. I’m also currently reading The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey.

I’d like to get bitcoind running natively under OmniOS, and maintain packages for it. There is also an alternative implementation of the full node, sans wallet, in btcd. I’d really like to get both going, publish packages, and write a HOWTO on this.

My sleep schedule is way off again, so homelab work is being interrupted by unexpected naps.


Tarus Balog : The EFF Turns 25

July 17, 2015 05:41 PM

In 1990, when the Internet was much smaller and slower than it is today, a bunch of forward-thinking people realized that this new technological wonder would create some unique issues for our society, and they formed the Electronic Frontier Foundation to protect people from its negative effects.

I can’t remember the first time I got involved with the EFF, but for years I’ve followed their efforts and cheered them on. Before I wore it to shreads, my “Protect Bloggers Rights” T-shirt was one of my favorites, and I still carry my passport in an EFF-badged wallet that blocks RFID transmission.

Earlier this year, the animator Chad Essley auctioned off the chance to be added to his video for the MC Frontalot song “Shudders” with all proceeds going to the EFF. The result was that the OpenNMS mascot Ulf gets a few seconds of much deserved fame and I got an invitation to the EFF’s 25th anniversary party.

I wasn’t going to make it (I don’t live in the Bay Area) but when I decided to attend this week’s Community Leadership Summit followed by OSCON up in Portland, it turned out that it wasn’t much more expensive to fly here first before heading up to Oregon. I know several people in the area and I figured I could find something to do before the party, but then the EFF created a half-day “minicon” so I decided to attend that as well.

EFF - DNA Lounge

The minicon consisted of three panel discussions. It was held at a nightclub called the DNA Lounge and when I got there just before noon the line to get in was already stretching down the block. When I did get in, there was a stage set up for the panels (a moderator’s podium and a table with four chairs for the panelists) as well as two banners describing what the EFF does.

EFF Banner

I thought the left one was pretty succinct: Free Speech, Privacy, Innovation, Transparency, Fair Use, International. Yup, that about covers it.

I didn’t take any pictures of the attendees (this group does attract a contingent from the “black helicopters” crowd) so while I probably had the right to take pictures as part of a public gathering it would have been rude. It was nice to see a fairly even split between men and women, and for once I wasn’t the oldest person in the room. It was mainly Caucasian and Asian faces that I saw (hey, that’s pretty much Silicon Valley) and I did see people with colorful hair (bright pink, electric blue, etc.) That part was similar to the open source conferences I attend, but there wasn’t a single utilikilt. The vibe was also different. Whereas FOSS conferences also attract technical people with a strong libertarian bent, this crowd included a lot more people concerned with social activism.

Which brings us to the first panel: Activism.

EFF - Panel 1

Not only does the EFF identify threats to liberty brought on by new technology, one of their pillars is to mobilize people to effect change, so this panel discussed ways to more effectively do just that. Should you call your Congressional Representative or e-mail them? Is publicly tweeting about them better than a private correspondence? One panelist commented on the fact that you can’t A/B test reality so it can be hard to determine the best action. Plus, if a particular effort is successful, such as with SOPA, the bar is set high for the next one, which can cause its own problems.

It was the first time I had been introduced to Annalee Newitz, and I really liked her comments. Yet another person to follow on the Twitters.

They also announced a project by Sina Khanifar called democracy.io which is supposed to make it easier for people to contact those in government.

The second panel focused on Copyright.

EFF - Panel 2

I am not an anti-copyright person. Copyright law is what makes free and open source software possible. However, it is obvious that it is broken. As a process created to mainly protect things like the written word, it doesn’t lend itself well to computer code. Plus, some copyright holders have a track record of abuse. I’ve even experienced it in such things as bogus DMCA takedown notices.

Part of this discussion focused on the concept of “fair use”. If I am given something or I pay for something, does the person from whom I got that something have a right to set limits on what I can do with it? It’s a tricky question. If I use someone’s song in a television commercial, it seems obvious that I should have to pay the owner of that song, especially since it may imply that the creator of the music endorses my product or service. But what if I invite 30 people over for a party and put on some music? Does that count as a “public performance”? It’s tricky.

The EFF is very concerned with transparency, and quite naturally has issues with secret negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Proponents of keeping trade negotiations secret will claim that they don’t want the discussion to disrupt markets. For example, if the discussion was about whether or not to place tariffs on corn exports, whether or not they would actually come about, this could cause undue fluctuations in the market for corn.

As one of the panelists noted: Copyright is not corn.

The TPP has a focus on intellectual property rights which will have far reaching repercussions for users of technology. Without oversight, the government’s zeal to protect, say, the movie and music industry, may result in actions that are detrimental to end users. People in government don’t tend to have strong technical experience, so it is important that these discussion take place in the open.

Privacy was the topic of the final panel.

EFF - Panel 3

This panel included Bruce Schneier. This was the first time I had seen him speak, and I was not disappointed. One of the questions was to predict privacy challenges due to technology 25 years from now. Bruce pointed out that it was harder to predict the impact of new tech on society than the tech itself. For example, we now have flying robots that kill people. On the one hand this is very frightening, and on the other hand, in a way, it is really, really cool.

He was referring to drones of course, and I couldn’t help but think of the trauma some drone operators are now facing even though they are thousands of miles from actual combat. Tech has also created an “interrupt driven” culture that may be fostering short attention spans. Heck, I’ll be surprised if even one of my three blog readers makes it this far in this long post, and we’ve had to come up with tags like “TL;DR” to deal with things like this. I can’t imagine what changes this will bring about in 25 years.

I was also impressed by panelist Parisa Tabriz. She is the “Security Princess” at Google and a solid public speaker. She pointed out that at Google they sometimes struggle with security versus privacy, in that certain security tech can leave a fingerprint that might weaken anonymity.

It is hard to talk about Google without bringing up Apple, and it was pointed out that Apple fails miserably on the transparency front but does do a good job when it comes to privacy. The argument goes that since Apple makes money on hardware (compared to Google’s model) they have less motivation to look at their users’ data. It would have been nice to have someone from Apple on the panel, but I’m not sure if they were asked. I did ask the EFF via a tweet, but didn’t get a response.

While most panel discussions suck, I enjoyed these, and I’m glad I went. The minicon ended around 4pm and since the party didn’t start until 8pm I decided to head back to the hotel, work on some e-mail and take a nap.

That was a mistake.

When my alarm went off at 7pm, I was so tired I considered blowing off the party entirely. I decided to go because Maggie had managed to find another RFID blocking passport wallet, as my EFF-branded one is pretty tattered, and I need another. It doesn’t have the EFF logo on it, but I hope they make more in the future.

EFF Passport Holder

My passport has had RFID technology embedded in it for years, but in all my travels it has never been legitimately accessed. It is just another example of technology being chosen because it exists without a firm plan on how to use it. I like knowing that I now can chose when to enable it or not (and yes, I know I could nuke it in the microwave but I’m not ready to go that far, yet).

Another thing I wish the EFF would do is advertise more about Amazon Smile. If you shop on Amazon Smile you can choose to have a portion of your purchase benefit a specific organization. It doesn’t cost you anything, and while I can’t find an actual total, since I shop on Amazon a lot I feel that I’ve probably sent a significant amount of money to the EFF. Of course, I can’t imagine that they are happy with things like Amazon Echo, so perhaps there is a conflict of interest, but I still wanted to make people aware of it.

EFF - Party Stage

So, I grabbed an Uber, went to the party, met Maggie and got my new passport holder. I then made a pass around the club but didn’t really feel comfortable. These were my people but then again not my people. It was obvious many knew each other, and while I’ve never been one to have a problem with a room full of strangers (in most situations I make new friends) the environment was pretty loud and not conducive to conversation. I just didn’t have the energy so I left.

This means I missed seeing Wil Wheaton and Cory Doctorow, two more people I’ve never seen in person but would like to one day. From social media it seems like it was a good time, but I just wanted to grab some dinner and sleep.

EFF - Wil Wheaton

Overall, I had a good time with the EFF. It is rare that I agree with everything even people I like do, but I can’t think of something the EFF has done in the last 25 years that bothered me or pissed me off. It is one of the few organizations that I regularly donate to, and I plan to leave them some money in my estate (if there is any left, I also plan to live for another 100 years and die after I’ve spent my last dime). If you haven’t supported them yet, I’d like to suggest that you do so.

Today I’m off to Portland for the CLS and OSCON, and these really are my people. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tarus Balog : Uber vs. Taxi

July 17, 2015 05:57 AM

Back in 2012, I first experienced Uber. While I assume everyone knows what Uber is, just in case you don’t, it is a ride service that heavily leverages modern technology to disrupt the livery/taxi industry.

When I first used Uber in 2012, it was limited to “black cars”, vehicles like Town Cars on the higher end of the scale, and the price reflected it. Now they have a number of different options, such as UberX (similar to a taxi), UberPool (more of a ride share version of UberX), UberSushi, UberMusic, etc. (okay, I made the last two up).

I had a rather positive experience with Uber back in 2012, but I rarely had the chance to use it much after that. Later, when I started reading about some “evil” things they were doing, I wasn’t inclined to call on them when I needed a ride, and their Android app seems to need an awful lot of permissions in order to work correctly, so I wouldn’t install it.

I am currently spending a few days in San Francisco, and when I landed at SFO I decided to take a taxi instead of BART. I like BART, but I was running late and also had a fairly large suitcase with me, so I opted for the convenience of a cab.

It was a bad experience.

When I approached the cab stand, I was assigned the next cab in line. This was car 226 from “Veteran’s Cab Company” and it was a very tired Toyota Prius. The driver seemed more interested in listening to music on his phone and texting than getting me to my hotel.

Texting Taxi Driver

He repeatedly ignored my requests that he not text and drive, and as I was watching for the best routes on Google Maps, he also ignored my requests to take me on the faster route. Outside of putting my life in danger, he probably cost me an extra $10 and an extra 15 minutes.

I did survive the trip, and I checked into the hotel, dropped my bags and headed back out because I was meeting a friend and we were going to take BART to the East Bay.

Although her house was only a 10-15 minute walk from BART, she was in heels and decided that we would catch a ride with Uber. This was UberX. The driver was waiting for us in an immaculate Prius and promptly took us to the house. As I ended up staying there past the time that BART stopped running, they called me another UberX ride to take me back to the hotel. This was also in a Prius, clean, and the driver was very friendly and safe.

It is hard to express the stark contrast between the experience of a normal taxi versus Uber.

I was in town for the EFF’s 25th anniversary party. While I walked to the “minicon” they held during the day, I decided to take Uber to the evening party. I dusted off my Uber account, updated the credit card, and called for a ride.

Within three minutes Ye showed up in a nice Toyota Camry. The route to the DNA Lounge was already in his phone, adjusted to avoid traffic, and the trip was quick and pleasant. As everything is paid for via the app, I had nothing to do but enjoy the ride.

I can see why people could get used to this.

For the ride back, I used Uber again. This time Allam picked me up in a Honda CR-V. Again, he arrived within three minutes. I was his first customer for the night and we hit it off to the point where I didn’t want the ride to end (he was originally from the West Bank of Israel and we talked a lot about the Middle East, which I’ve enjoyed visiting).

When I go to the airport tomorrow to head to CLS and OSCON, I plan to take UberX, or I might try UberPool.

While I still have concerns about some of Uber’s policies, and I probably need to check out Lyft (a competing service), we are talking about an experience that is orders of magnitude better than the old status quo. I’ll be hard pressed to take a taxi again.

Mark Turner : The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

July 16, 2015 02:08 AM

This is why my family craves vacations instead of stuff.

There’s a very logical assumption that most people make when spending their money: that because a physical object will last longer, it will make us happier for a longer time than a one-off experience like a concert or vacation. According to recent research, it turns out that assumption is completely wrong.

Source: The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

Mark Turner : Thoughts on flag burning and welfare

July 16, 2015 02:06 AM

Your First Amendment at work

Your First Amendment at work


A shipmate of mine posted a photo meme from the “Right Wing News” Facebook page. It reads “Cancel the welfare checks of anyone who burns the U.S. flag. Share if you agree.”

This kind of asinine, knee-jerk, robot patriotism drives me nuts. Many mornings and evenings I have raised and lowered the American flag (we called it “colors”) on my ship while I served in the U.S. Navy. Out of all the tasks I had to perform whenever I stuck on the ship on duty, being color guard was my favorite. I considered it the deepest honor to smartly raise our nation’s symbol above my ship those mornings and to lower it and fold it solemnly at dusk.

I also maintained a keen appreciation for the freedom it symbolizes. I loved that one of the rights granted me by the Constitution was my ability to burn it. I still love that right as the freedom itself is exponentially more important than the symbol of that freedom. Some people miss this important distinction, especially those who’ll share a provocative photo without taking two seconds to ponder its meaning.

This is what burns me up (no pun intended). America needs to grow the hell up. Our grand republic is not going to crumble whenever some yahoo torches a flag. Quite the contrary, it makes us stronger. We either exercise our rights or we will lose them. The First Amendment is one that deserves the most exercise, even if the speech is controversial. As Noam Chomsky pointed out, “if you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like.” You may not agree when someone burns a flag but if you don’t support someone’s right to burn it then you’re not really clear on the concept of the First Amendment. You see, the First Amendment not only protects your freedom of speech, it also protects your right to be offended. If something offends you then you know it’s doing its job.

I feel the same way about Westboro Baptist Church’s protests. They may be douchebags but their right to express themselves as douchebags is the same right that lets me express myself as I see fit. If I undermine their right I undermine my own. See how it works?

I’d love to see us becoming a little more tolerant of differences and of others exercising the rights we have instead of crying like little babies at every offense or else the terrorists win. The terrorists know that all they have to do is burn something that resembles the American flag and we quiver like Jello. We make it so easy for them!

And by the way, my feelings also extend to the brouhaha around the Confederate (battle) flag, but only partly. The battle flag flying over the S.C. state house grounds is the de-facto condoning of its racist history by S.C. government. The same flag flying over Confederate graves is perfectly appropriate. It’s ideals belong in a cemetery, so why not? Beyond that, people should be free to use the Confederate flag however they wish, providing they understand the stigma it may bring.

That’s another thing about the First Amendment – it protects the right for racist, ignorant people to let everyone know they’re racist, ignorant people. And you know what? That’s fine with me. It’s good to know what you’re dealing with, right up front.

Some on the right have had fun sneering at those expressing offense at the Confederate flag, with remarks like “I’m so sick of everyone being offended.” Yet some become loudly offended if the particular flag is an American one in flames. I find this kind of selective outrage amusing.

The second thing that sticks in my craw about this particular photo is the assumption that only “freeloaders” accept welfare. Did you know that a survey by Feeding America shows that 25% percent of active and reserve military families accept food support?

“Yetter’s family is among the 620,000 households that include at least one soldier, reservist or guardsman – or 25 percent of the nation’s total active duty and reserve personnel – that are seeking aid from food pantries and other charitable programs across the country, according to a rare inquiry about the food insecurity of troops and veterans conducted by Feeding America, a hunger relief charity.”

I think this is an absolute travesty. Our military families sacrifice at extraordinary levels to serve our Country, and many need help putting food on the table. Our military gets 24% of our Federal tax dollars and yet 25% of our troops can’t make ends meet. If there’s anything more patriotic than this kind of sacrifice I don’t know what it is. It’s a damn shame.

So to recap, outrage over burning the flag completely misses the point of freedom and the myth of the unpatriotic welfare recipient has been busted. Can we please start applying a little thought now to things before blindly forwarding them? Please?

Mark Turner : No City Council race for me this year

July 15, 2015 05:14 PM

A lot of people have been asking me when I’m going to run for Raleigh City Council. It’s humbling to be considered for such public service and I appreciate all of the interest and enthusiasm for my potential candidacy.

While I considered it strongly, I have decided this is not my year to run. My family is not ready for me to devote the level of time and attention needed to do the job right. I also want to hang on to the few years left that our kids are at home. They are growing so quickly if I blink I’ll miss it.

I’ll still be involved – you know you can’t keep me from meddling! I just will do so as a civilian for the time being.

Thanks for your support and encouragement. When the time is right you’ll be the first to know.

Mark Turner : Phydeaux and Seaboard Station

July 15, 2015 05:01 PM

I was concerned several years ago when Raleigh’s only downtown grocery closed at Seaboard Station but pleasantly surprised when the Phydeaux pet store moved in. I normally don’t get attached to pet stores but I absolutely love Phydeaux. I feel like they know me, and that they are happy to be part of the community.

I was concerned when news spread last month that Phydeaux would soon be leaving Seaboard over concerns with its lease arrangement. Phydeaux is leaving in September for new digs at the current Briggs Hardware building at Atlantic Ave and Six Forks. Phydeaux is purchasing the building from the Scruggs family.

It’s my understanding the rent at Seaboard isn’t cheap, which is amusing considering that a mere ten years ago the place was a ghost town. Phydeaux is set to save a bundle in buying the Briggs building, so much that it was an absolute no-brainer for them to move.

I’m not sure why Trademark (and Peace University) would want to let such a great tenant go. I figure I visit Phydeaux more often than any other business at Seaboard. Probably 80% of my trips to Seaboard are to Phydeaux.

Phydeaux was only offered a two year lease. Why? Who knows? What plans does Trademark and Peace University have for the space? When Peace bought the property in 2013 neighbors had fears that the school would replace its shops with dorms or baseball fields. Trademark’s Billie Redmond says there’s no plans for that.

But for how long will that be true?

Mark Turner : Amazon backs NC’s 1st large-scale wind farm | News & Observer News & Observer

July 14, 2015 02:32 PM

Remember last year when I wondered why Amazon would suddenly start collecting state sales taxes even though it had no presence in the state? The N&O’s John Murawski reported yesterday that Amazon is investing in a giant wind farm in eastern North Carolina. Boom, there’s your “unspecified investment.”

With the estimated $20-$30 million Amazon is now collecting in sales taxes, Amazon’s wind farm is not only powering 60,000 homes, it’s also powering teacher salaries.

The world’s largest developer of wind-energy farms has teamed up with online retail giant Amazon to build a major wind farm in coastal North Carolina.Amazon, which is building a network of wind farms and also testing Tesla storage batteries, announced the project Monday. The Amazon Wind Farm US East, to be built in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties, will power the online retailer’s cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services, as part of a corporate goal of achieving energy sustainability.

The sprawling 34-square-mile wind farm will start with 104 turbine spires rising from the state’s eastern flatlands. The $400 million energy project will be built by Spanish wind farm developer Iberdrola Renewables and will start generating electricity for Amazon’s data centers in late 2016.

Source: Amazon backs NC’s 1st large-scale wind farm | News & Observer News & Observer

Mark Turner : Broadband Speeds Are Improving in Many Places. Too Bad It Took Google to Make It Happen. | MIT Technology Review

July 14, 2015 02:18 PM

MIT’s Technology Review magazine praises Google Fiber for spurring broadband investment.

State and local governments had done little to disrupt the status quo or push ISPs to invest in upgrades. And governments also showed little interest in subsidizing, let alone fully paying for, a better infrastructure themselves. (There was money allocated to broadband investment in the 2009 stimulus bill, but it went mainly to wire underserved areas rather than lay fiber.) On the municipal level, most cities still had building regulations and permit requirements that, inadvertently or not, tended to discourage the laying of new line, particularly by new entrants. And in many cases, even if cities were interested in building or operating their own high-speed networks, state laws barred them from doing so. The result of all these factors was that the United States, slowly but certainly, began falling well behind countries like Sweden, South Korea, and Japan when it came to affordable, abundant bandwidth.

Five years later, things look very different. The United States is still behind Sweden and South Korea. But fiber-to-the-home service is now a reality in cities across the country. Google Fiber, which first rolled out in Kansas City in the fall of 2012, is now operating in Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, and Google says it will expand next to Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Nashville, and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, with another five major metro areas potentially on the horizon. The biggest impact, though, has arguably been the response from big broadband providers.

Source: Broadband Speeds Are Improving in Many Places. Too Bad It Took Google to Make It Happen. | MIT Technology Review

Mark Turner : Cheap thoughts: discouraging nighttime thefts from cars

July 13, 2015 05:07 PM

Saturday night as I lay sleeping in the bedroom just above, a thief quietly slipped up my neighbor’s driveway to his car, tried the door handle, and slipped away. He and his buddy found my other neighbor’s door unlocked and ransacked the car.

This happens from time to time when you live in the big city. You either keep your car locked (always a good plan) or suffer potential thefts. There aren’t many tools to it from happening.

Being a law-and- order-minded geek, I have been considering ways to catch some of these crooks. One way involves altering the battery pack on a laptop to conceal a GPS-enabled smartphone, which would lead cops directly to the thief. Why the battery? It does no permanent damage to the laptop and the remaining cells in the battery could power the laptop long enough for a crook to be convinced it works.

Tracking him is fun, but wouldn’t it be better to teach the punk a little lesson first? I thought of electrifying objects in the car as a good (but harmless) shock might get some attention, but that also might cause injury to someone especially susceptible to it and then here comes a wrongful-death lawsuit from the crook’s relatives. I don’t want to kill anybody and don’t want no lawsuit, either.

Another idea I’m toying with is to blind the ever-loving daylights out of the punk as he leans into the car with a strobe-light device. A motion sensor would start a countdown as the car door is opened. When one second elapses, the box emits a blinding strobe light and sounds a deafening alarm right in the crook’s face. This should disorient the crook for a while and it will certainly attract attention, making it unlikely he will come back around. The device would be placed between the seats and could be made skinny enough to barely peek over the seats so as not to attract attention.

I think I could make a device like this for under $30. Been checking the Internet for similar devices but oddly there isn’t anything like this currently available. Maybe I’ll be the first.

Tarus Balog : The OpenNMS Calendar

July 11, 2015 02:48 PM

As I was spending this morning trying to get organized, I thought it would help me to post some of the OpenNMS events coming up over the next few months.

July: OSCON

The O’Reilly Open Source Conference, being held the week of 20 July in Portland, OR, USA, is probably the last great commercial open source conference. I’ll be there on the Expo floor and would love to chat with folks about OpenNMS and open source. We are also sponsoring a free concert with MC Frontalot and the Doubleclicks at Dante’s on Thursday night the 23rd:

August: Training

We are holding our formal week-long OpenNMS training course the week of 10 August at OpenNMS HQ in Pittsboro, NC. This is the best way to get up to speed with OpenNMS, plus you get to meet a lot of the people who make it happen.

September: Users Conference

This year’s users conference is shaping up to be the best yet. It will be held from 28 September to 1 October at the University of Applied Science in Fulda, Germany, which is just outside of Frankfurt.

Sponsored by the independent OpenNMS Foundation, The Call for Papers is still open. Also this year we’ll have the gang from the Bad Voltage podcast doing a live show for your entertainment.

October: All Things Open

From 18-20 October, the All Things Open conference returns to America’s Open City: Raleigh, NC (home of Red Hat). This is a great time and OpenNMS will be a sponsor this year.

Hope to see you at one or all of these events.

Mark Turner : The genitalia vote

July 11, 2015 12:33 AM

A liberal friend posted this on her Facebook page in an effort to drum up support for Hillary Clinton for President:

IT is time to put our ducks in a row and support a woman IMHO. We all cashed in that chip and supported Barrack Obama the last time – and we did the right thing — even though he gave us Arnie Duncan!! I want to win. I want a woman to run. I like Bernie but come on – he will not be elected and he is not a woman — if we have a qualified woman does not she deserve our support? Where are all you affirmative action progressives? And bashing Hillary is harming our party and will harm our election chances and many many days the comments against her seem like “excuses” to support another man. Many comments are on the edge of sexist innuendos and often rude. I love Bernie’s brashness- boldness-his honesty and finger wagging BUT I do not want him to be my President – Hillary has experience as Sec. Of State alone that outranks his experience. I think it is time for a woman in the USA to be President. IMHO.

I was a bit taken aback that somehow Hillary was the Chosen One and that to point our her flaws is considered “bashing.” We are over a year away from the actual election, of course. There’s a long way to go. But there’s more.

Another friend responded, including this in his reply:

We certainly should not vote for someone based on what genitalia they have.

This drew another response; one from a woman:

You make some good points. But saying voting for Hillary because she’s a woman is voting for her because of genitalia is pretty insulting. The experience of being a woman in America is not all about what’s in our underwear.

Uh, the original poster appears to endorse Hillary, well … because of her genitalia.

I’m mystified by this. I voted for Obama because I thought he was the best person (yes, person) willing to lead the country at the time. I didn’t vote for him because he was black, or because he was a man. I couldn’t care less about those things. A female candidate with the same credentials would’ve been just as likely to get my vote.

Didn’t we just all celebrate a Supreme Court decision that says if you want to get married the law doesn’t care about what genitalia you have? And didn’t we just celebrate an American soccer team’s world championship, a team that happened to be female? Aren’t we on the way towards leaving stereotyped gender roles in the past where they belong? It sure seems that to me. Good riddance, I say!

Look, I’ve got nothing against women (some of my best friends are women, ha). I am a husband supportive of my wife’s career and achievements. I am fiercely protective of our daughter’s right to do whatever the hell she chooses to do, unencumbered by society’s opinion. I have proudly voted and supported city councilors, mayors, secretaries of state and treasury, and also governors who happen to be women. It’s not because they were women, it’s because they were the best qualified.

I respect my Facebook friend, but anyone who votes for someone solely based on their gender has got their priorities way out of whack. The best candidates should win not based on their gender but what they can do for the people they represent.

Mark Turner : China hacked 7% of America – Business Insider

July 10, 2015 02:32 AM

Remember the Chinese hack on OPM? It’s far worse than we were told. Ugh. I’m thinking somebody needs to go to prison.

More than 20 million people had their personal information stolen when Office of Personnel Management (OPM) servers were breached by Chinese hackers last year, sources close to the agency are reporting.The New York Times and the government are reporting 21.5 million, and CNN is reporting 22.1 million. ABC and Reuters have reported 25 million.

Source: China hacked 7% of America – Business Insider

Magnus Hedemark : fruits of insomnia

July 09, 2015 12:56 PM

One of the common struggles that goes with being autistic is maintaining a regular sleep schedule. For a lot of us, it just doesn’t happen. Last night was a rough night, in which I did get a lot of sleep, but it was at the wrong time: 6PM to 1:30AM. After getting a full night’s sleep, I was ready to kick some ass. What to do?

I know! I’ll start working on my Jenkins CI server!

The last part for my big build box hasn’t arrived yet, but as long as my kids aren’t awake the Minecraft zone isn’t crushing my HP Proliant N40L Microserver. I spun up a couple of zones, one for the Jenkins server itself, and one for a build slave.

I’ve worked sort of tangentially with Jenkins in the past in a professional capacity, but I can’t say I’m a subject matter expert or heavily experienced. There is a bit of a learning curve, but mostly I’ve figured out the bits that I need it to do. I’ve got it tracking three open source project right now: ZNC, Git, and Tor. It’s successfully watching the Master branch of each of the three projects and building them from source on OmniOS.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 8.18.55 AM

For Tor, I additionally have Jenkins running a gmake test after building from source.

Next step: get Jenkins to orchestrate IPS packaging. I also need to work up a solid SMF manifest for Tor.

A little further out: I’ve got some pretty solid hardware, but a flaky residential broadband connection (thanks, Time-Warner). I’d like very much to find some kind soul who has illumos servers in a stable datacenter environment to mirror my private IPS repositories publicly for the benefit of the rest of the community. As much as I love Digital Ocean, they can’t offer me OmniOS zones as a service (hey, get on that guys, please?) Or better yet, 1U of space in a Raleigh datacenter with power and an ethernet port would be fantastic.


Mark Turner : 17 Oct 2000: USS Kitty Hawk gets buzzed by Russian jets

July 09, 2015 03:02 AM

The USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) get overflown by Russian jets. This should never happen.

The USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) get overflown by Russian jets. This should never happen.

The photo above was taken by a Russian reconnaissance jet as it buzzed 200 feet above the USS Kitty Hawk as the ship steamed in the Sea of Japan on 17 October 2000. As you can see, the flight deck was far from being ready to launch CAP aircraft. According to some reports, it took over 40 minutes for the Kitty Hawk to launch any aircraft in response to this overflight. Even then, rumor has it that all the ship could muster to launch was a lowly EA-6B Prowler, no match for the Russian jets.

The skipper on that day was Captain Allen G. Myers, who had assumed command 27 May 2000. Ordinarily when a skipper gets caught with his figurative pants down like Captain Myers apparently did, he winds up pushing pencils at some far-flung outpost, never to be seen again. Myers bucked that trend, though, retiring as a Vice Admiral before beginning a lucrative career last year as a vice president at a defense contractor.

Once upon a time I admired the Navy’s flavor of military justice, with it’s deep tradition of a captain’s accountability. By custom as well as international and maritime law a captain at sea is essentially God. With this awesome responsibility comes ultimate accountability. Or so I thought. My first skipper, uh … “bent” our ship, sliced through our sonar array, and made other mistakes that would’ve sunk mere mortal captains. His Naval Academy buddy happened to be Secretary of the Navy, though, and having friends like that makes mistakes magically disappear. My CO went on to retire with three stars and eventually I realized that military justice is a crock.

The Kitty Hawk overflight has become a bit of a legend, actually, and it took some work to track down this photographic proof. The photo ran in the January 2003 issue of the Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute, where author LCDR Mike Studeman offers the photo and a brief mention the incident:

To be sure, the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) would have found [detailed accounting of prior Russian aircraft activity] such as this useful prior to the Russian Su-24 Fencer and Su-27 Flanker flyovers in the Sea of Japan in fall 2000, after which photos of the flight deck were e-mailed to the aircraft carrier’s commanding officer.

Other than that, you’ll find few mentions of the incident. A story in the Stars and Stripes military newspaper has since disappeared. Old links to the photo on websites have since gone dead. No mention is made of it in the ship’s official command history for 2000. And of course, it’s been scrubbed from the ship’s Wikipedia page. The Naval History site for the Kitty Hawk casts doubt on it with an accounting peppered with “purported” and “alleged:”

17 Oct 2000: While operating in the Sea of Japan Kitty Hawk was overflown by a pair of Russian aircraft, allegedly a Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer and Su-27 Flanker. The overflight purportedly surprised the ship, which failed to launch her alert aircraft in time to intercept the inbound Russians, due to communications errors. Additional flyovers occurred on 12 October and 9 November 2000, without the ship being surprised.

The only substantial news story on the incident comes from the Los Angeles Times on Nov 16, 2000:

MOSCOW — Crowing with pride, Russia’s air force chief claimed Wednesday that a group of Russian warplanes buzzed the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan, taking pictures of the reaction on deck, in an episode that flashed back to the cat-and-mouse games of the Cold War.

“For the Americans, our planes were a complete surprise,” boasted Gen. Anatoly M. Kornukov, the Russian air force’s commander in chief. “In the pictures, you can clearly see the panic on deck.”

Having seen hours of carrier flight operations from the vantage point of my ship acting as plane guard, I can tell you this photo shows a flight deck caught totally unprepared. Up until yesterday, I didn’t know this photo existed. I enjoyed tracking it down.

Tarus Balog : 2015 Mini Dev-Jam

July 08, 2015 08:02 PM

So, after this year’s Dev-Jam, several people followed us back to Pittsboro. Markus von Rüden, Ronny, Christian and Dustin all came to visit, as did Antonio. It was an extra week to get even more work done and a chance for us to socialize.

On Thursday Ben suggested we visit a really nice Japanese restaurant called Dashi in Durham. While downstairs serves noodles, upstairs is a bar with small plates. We rented the place out for a few hours.

Dinner at Dashi

It was excellent. The food was delicious and unusual, and the drinks were splendid as well.

Since our guests weren’t leaving until July the 5th, it was only appropriate to have everyone over to celebrate July the 4th. I was finally able to make Fish House Punch (there is so much of it you need a large number of people to help drink it) and we did the usual 4th of July things such as cooking out on the grill.

The one thing we couldn’t do was fireworks, as there are pretty strict limits on them in North Carolina. I thought we could substitute a bonfire (I generate a lot of stuff to burn on the farm) but with the large amounts of rain we have been getting it really wouldn’t catch.

Then Jesse asked “Do you have any gasoline?”

Against my better judgment, I got some gas and while it improved things, the fire still wasn’t blazing like a bonfire should. Then someone suggested I get the leaf blower.

Tweet about the 4th party

Now, I have a really nice leaf blower. It’s a four-cycle Makita that makes me feel like Magneto. It did the job.

4th of July Bonfire

Remember, don’t try this at home.

Speaking of home, everyone made it back safely. It was nice seeing them for an extended period of time.

The next chance I get to see old friends will be OSCON coming up in two weeks. Remember that OpenNMS is sponsoring an MC Frontalot concert with the whole band at Dante’s on July 23rd. Hope to see you there.

Mark Turner : Police and Animal Control Respond to Coyote Encounter

July 08, 2015 12:34 PM

Here’s the press release from Raleigh Police on last week’s coyote incident. WRAL’s story identified the man as Stephen Keating, 24.

Many have pointed out that dogs aren’t allowed in Schenck Forest. I suspect this incident might make dog owners think twice about breaking this rule.

On July 1 at about 6:30 p.m., Raleigh Police Department officers, N.C. State University Police Department officers and Raleigh Animal Control Unit personnel responded to a wooded area off the 4800 block of Reedy Creek Road in regard to an incident that involved coyotes shadowing a man and his dog.

The man said he was walking in Schenck Forest when his dog’s behavior caused him to survey their surroundings, and he saw three coyotes. As he reversed his course and began moving away, the coyotes followed and flanked him. The man took shelter on an elevated manhole and called 911.

Responders parked their vehicles and followed trails until two of the officers found the man and the dog (a 5-6 month-old boxer). The officers then began to escort them out of the wooded area. The coyotes followed and flanked the party for an estimated 300 yards until the woods gave way to a clearing.

Coyote sighting are common and are generally not a cause for concern. However, animal control officials should always be notified if wildlife is seen behaving unusually or in an aggressive manner. In Raleigh, animal control resources can be contacted at 919-831-6311.

A 911 call concerning the incident is available at the link below. As required by § 132-1.4, information has been redacted from the call, and its audio has been altered to disguise the male caller’s natural voice. In addition, the man’s remote location resulted in a considerable amount of dead air during the call, and that irrelevant content has been redacted to reduce the file size enough to provide it via the link.

Editors: Wildlife management is a function of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. In terms of general information about human interactions with coyotes, Web resources, including this link, may provide helpful background information.

Tarus Balog : Linux Mint 17.2 “Rafaela”

July 07, 2015 11:17 PM

Just a quick post as I’ve now upgraded two desktops to the latest Linux Mint, version 17.2, code named “Rafaela”.

The upgrade process was pretty painless. I was on 17.1 “Rebecca” so I made sure all the packages were up to date. Then I launched the “Update Manager” application and chose “Upgrade to 17.2″ under the “Edit” menu.

Easy-peasy.

I haven’t seen any new issues and some of the old ones seem to have disappeared. I used to have issues with a) the desktop background going all wonky, b) the screen resolution dropping down to 640×480 that was only fixable via reboot, and c) the screen not being responsive at all, necessitating Ctl-Alt-Fx and then back to Ctl-Alt-F8. No biggies and they were pretty infrequent, so I’m not certain they are fixed (I have an ATI Radeon PRO card in the desktop with the issue) but I haven’t seen them since the upgrade.

Plus, yay!, the screensaver is back. Ubuntu decided a long time ago to basically nix the screensaver and just power off the screen. I like screensavers, but I also like an integration with the desktop environment so I never hacked in xscreensaver. Well, in 17.2, they did. You will have to install the xscreensaver packages to get choices (well, more than the default two) and it is missing a randomizer (sniff) but one step at a time.

I just wish I could get the clickpad to work correctly on my new laptop. I’ve posted my problem to the forum but so far no suggestions.

Anyway, I’d recommend Mint users upgrade when able. So far so good.

Update: Problem a) is still happening. When the system comes back from a suspend the desktop background is distorted into squares of mainly black and white pixels. I have to change the desktop background away from what it is and then back to restore. Doesn’t happen on my NVidia desktop.

Mark Turner : Coyotes surround man on Raleigh greenway

July 07, 2015 11:32 AM

I got word yesterday that there was an incident last week where a man walking his dog along Raleigh’s Reedy Creek Greenway was surrounded by “vicious” coyotes and he needed to be rescued by Raleigh Police. Police spokesperson Jim Sugrue is still gathering details and is expected to issue a press release this morning.

Mark Turner : The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life – The New York Times

July 07, 2015 01:18 AM

Studies show that moderate exercise such as walking done just an hour per day significantly increases your longevity (and, hey, makes you feel better, too).

Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity. Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity, suggesting that the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect. The studies also found that prolonged or intense exercise is unlikely to be harmful and could add years to people’s lives.

Source: The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life – The New York Times

Mark Turner : Vagus nerve stimulation – Business Insider

July 06, 2015 02:20 AM

Vagus nerve stimulation might help relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and other immune system disorders.

Luckily, she would not have to. As she was resigning herself to a life of disability and monthly chemotherapy, a new treatment was being developed that would profoundly challenge our understanding of how the brain and body interact to control the immune system. It would open up a whole new approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, using the nervous system to modify inflammation. It would even lead to research into how we might use our minds to stave off disease.

And, like many good ideas, it came from an unexpected source.

Source: Vagus nerve stimulation – Business Insider

Magnus Hedemark : State of the Nerd Report / Homelab Update

July 04, 2015 05:15 AM

The last few months have been quite a ride. I’ve been busy, both at work and at play. And both influence one another. Of course, if I were going to write about work tonight, I’ve got another outlet for that. So let’s catch up on what I’ve been up to in my personal nerding.

I’ve largely pulled back from photography. This isn’t so much on a permanent basis, but long enough for me to catch up on some other geekery. My home office was looking like something out of hoarders, though, so I took drastic action before my family could stage an intervention.

The part that hurts the most is that I’ve liquidated almost all of my darkroom equipment. I can still process exposed film in 35mm and medium format, but no longer have the trays for sheet film processing. All three enlargers are gone, safe lights are gone, enlarger timer is gone. In a nutshell, I can no longer create analog enlargements. This reflects the reality of how poorly my darkroom setup was. Quite literally, it involved crawling around on the floor of my downstair bathroom with an enlarger propped up on the toilet lid, trays in the bathtub, other supplies scattered on the floor around me. My knees can’t take it anymore, and I’m not making a significant upgrade in my house to accommodate a permanent professional type darkroom, so off it went.

A lot of old computer junk went off to the recycling center. I still have a bunch of hard disks to drill out, but this also freed up a lot of floor space.

But I didn’t just spend my time getting rid of stuff: there are new toys, as well.

  • Force10 S50 switch – 48 managed gigabit ethernet ports. This was much-needed. The Cisco SG300-10 was moved upstairs to the living room. I’ve now got a wired connection between upstairs and downstairs, which fundamentally changes how my whole house network functions now… especially since the internet connectivity comes into the house from upstairs, and all of the real infrastructure is downstairs.
  • Many upgrades to the N40L. The ZFS pool was upgraded from 4x 2TB disks to 4x 6TB disks, which will now give me room for a backing store for virtual machines. 2x 128GB SSD’s were added as boot disks, so the OS could be changes from SmartOS to OmniOS. I did this mostly because I felt what I needed was more of a general purpose OS on that machine, and I also wanted the better IPv6 support that OmniOS provides. I added a third 128GB SSD as a slog device. Yeah, it’s way too big. But I didn’t want to partition a reach cache device for this. I’m saving the final 2.5″ disk slot for an L2ARC SSD.
  • ZFS-backed network Time Machine backups for my Macbook.
  • WiFi upgrades – The Apple wifi gear is gone. This is great, because the Apple Airport Extreme would fall over when placed under heavy load, sometimes multiple times per day. I split the router/firewall role out to a pfSense machine, and moved the WiFi duties to ubiquity gear. Remember how I told you how to create a Tor-only VLAN with a Raspberry Pi last year? Well, that VLAN is still running. And now it finally has something to do: it’s the basis for my WiFi guest network.
  • Desk – I really hated my old desk. I never liked it. Not even a little. I got a small bump in cash from recent events at work, and put some of it towards a nice desk upgrade. I’m now writing this while standing up at my carbonized bamboo GeekDesk Max.

I feel like I’ve been super busy and not getting a lot done. But I have gotten a lot done. I just have a lot more to do.

Some of the things I want to get done soon:

  • Get my private cloud bootstrapped.
  • Spend some time really learning and putting to use a programming language like Ruby, Go, or Python.
  • Get more involved with contributing to the Tor community. Somehow. See the bit above about learning a new programming language.
  • Speaking of Tor, one of the moderators at /r/tor just up and banned me with no warning or conversation or anything. The explanation didn’t seem to make sense. Given I’m going to be spending more time writing about Tor, I’d hate to be closed out of this part of the community. Stretch goal: figure out how to be allowed back in through the front door. I don’t have interest in sneaking through the back.
  • I’ve got a lot of ideas around automating orchestration of a bunch of Tor relays “in the cloud”. And I plan on budgeting some $$ every month towards deploying and maintaining such a hive of relays.
  • Beaglebone Black. I’ve got one. I just need to find a cool project for it.

Magnus Hedemark : locked out of Twitter for using Tor

July 03, 2015 09:59 PM

If anybody finds themselves missing my tweets, note that Twitter decided to lock my account for accessing it through Tor. I thought I’d post a little bit about it, because I’m sure this has got to be a problem for people in parts of the world where they must use technology like Tor to connect and enjoy some freedom of speech.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 5.50.28 PM

They even sent me a nice note right away with a temporary code (reswizzled here). Shame the temporary code didn’t work.

Hi Magnus H.,
We noticed that someone recently tried to sign in to your Twitter account (@Magnus919) from an unusual device or location.
If this wasn’t you, change your password now:https://twitter.com/account/begin_password_reset
If this was you, confirm your identity by using this temporary code: abcdefgh
You can also enter this code where you would normally enter your password when you sign in. Once you confirm your identity, you can continue using your current password.
If you’re having trouble, you can report a problem.
Thank you,
The Twitter Security Team

Note that I use Tor pretty extensibly for mundane things, including using Twitter. Note that even Facebook is making substantial effort to figure out how to let people use its services through Tor. Twitter, please do this.


Tarus Balog : 2015 Dev-Jam: Day Five

July 03, 2015 05:23 PM

Sorry for the week delay on this post, but this happened.

The last day of Dev-Jam is always bittersweet for me. I’m sad that it is over, but I also get to see all the wonderful “new shiny” people have been working on. Friday we do demos.

This year we made an attempt to record each demo. Just click on the picture to see it on the YooToobz. Videos, yay!

First up was Ben. Ben is the architect of our new mobile app, OpenNMS Compass. Available for both iOS and Android, it may even turn into our next overall user interface. To do that, it needs graphs, so Ben demonstrated how you can now display graphs in Compass. You can even set “favorites” so they show up on your main screen.

Dev-Jam Demos: Ben

Markus von Rüden spent the week working on something fun: digitizing our mascot and kiwi overlord, Ulf. He demonstrated this work in a game. While it wasn’t completely finished, when Ulf died would he split in half to reveal a kiwi (fruit) center. Cute. Unfortunately, no video and no wiki page (yet).

Dev-Jam Demos: MvR

Christian presented a new way to represent issues within OpenNMS, a “heat map“. It works with both alarms and outages.

Dev-Jam Demos: Christian

Jesse presented something that literally gave me goosebumps. Using our new integration with Newts, you can search for similar data within OpenNMS. So if there is say, a spike, you can search through all the other metrics to see if there are other data sources that spike at the same time.

Dev-Jam Demos: Jesse

David S. presented a new northbound interface for sending alarms to other systems via JMS. He used ActiveMQ as a proof of concept.

Dev-Jam Demos: David S.

Ron created a couple of new features. The first was the ability to see polls as events, including how long each poll took (if available). He also added the ability to create a consistent color scheme across performance graphs.

Dev-Jam Demos: Ron

Umberto created another real exciting feature – the ability to export in real time OpenNMS events to Elasticsearch. Since OpenNMS can handle thousands of events a second, sending them to a system built to analyze such data could be very useful. Umberto was sponsored to attend by the OpenNMS Foundation.

Dev-Jam Demos: Umberto

A second OpenNMS Foundation attendee was Marcel. He worked on improving data collection for Fortinet devices.

Dev-Jam Demos: Marcel

Another cool feature was Dustin’s custom data collection script tool. Sometimes OpenNMS gets criticized for not using SSH to collect data and perform montoring. The reason it doesn’t is rather simple: it’s a stupid idea. It usually requires that you set up keys with null passphrases, and often they connect as root. Despite the security issues, it is also a resource hog and can’t scale. We have always recommended using an extensible SNMP agent like Net-SNMP, but it can be some effort to set up.

Dustin’s feature allows you to put collection scripts in a special folder on the server, and OpenNMS will automatically collect the data. All you need to do then is to add a graph definition and you’re done.

Dev-Jam Demos: Dustin

Ronny discussed running OpenNMS in Vagrant and Docker containers. Neato.

Dev-Jam Demos: Ronny

DJ was frustrated in how long it can take to compile OpenNMS if tests are enabled. OpenNMS is heavily instrumented with software tests. These can be broken into “unit” tests and “integration” tests. Maven (the build system used by OpenNMS) can be configured to separate them. Since unit tests should be small and quick, they can be run every time with the integration tests only run for regression.

Dev-Jam Demos: DJ

Finally, Seth presented the work he did this week which was focused on changes needed to support OpenNMS Minion. Minions are little, stand alone processes that can perform basic monitoring and data collection, which is then forwarded up to an OpenNMS Dominion instance.

Dev-Jam Demos: Seth

While the last Dev-Jam always seems to be the best Dev-Jam, I think it was true this year. This work will go along way toward positioning OpenNMS for the coming Internet of Things, and as always it is amazing to see what brilliant people can do when given the opportunity to work together.

We ended the day at Surly Brewing Company. The beer was delicious and the company stimulating. I only got one non-blurry picture, and unfortunately my pants fell down when I stood up to take it.

Dev-Jam: Surly Brewing

Sorry.

I hope to see everyone at the OpenNMS Users Conference in September. I promise to keep my pants on.

Mark Turner : First Measles Death in US Since 2003 Highlights the Unknown Vulnerables – Phenomena: Germination

July 03, 2015 12:19 AM

For the first time in 12 years, an American resident has died from measles. The victim was taking immunosuppressive drugs which made her vulnerable.

Last week, the CDC reported on a man who contracted measles after passing through an airport gate a full 46 minutes after an infected child passed through the same gate. Learn more about why measles is a scary disease here at Buzzfeed.

Shocking news today out of Washington state: For the first time since 2003, a resident of the United States has died of measles. If you wondered, based on my last post, what happens when measles infects unvaccinated people and travels with them in an untrackable manner, this is the answer: It sickens and kills people who are vulnerable for reasons over which they have no control.

Source: First Measles Death in US Since 2003 Highlights the Unknown Vulnerables – Phenomena: Germination

Mark Turner : Moore’s Law is dead – Business Insider

July 01, 2015 12:54 PM

“Moore’s Law,” the observation that computer chips has doubled in capacity every two years, is hitting the limits of physical matter. This is a fascinating look at the miraculous physics that makes our smartphone-enabled world possible, and where we go from here.

When Gordon Moore wrote his paper, the most complex chip had only 64 transistors on it. Back around 2000, the processor on my home-built PC was made using a 180-nanometer process technology. The one I’m using now, also built out of parts, uses a 22-nanometer technology. The amount of transistors on the chip has increased from 37 million to over 1 billion in only 15 years.

Moore’s law is based on shrinkage. How small can you shrink the manufacturing process? The smaller you can do it, the more components you can fit on a silicon wafer. We’ve been really good at that for over 50 years.

But we’re hitting limits with how small we can make these components. In fact, over the past several years, it’s become harder and harder to shrink the manufacturing process. Some experts predict we’ll hit the end of the line by 2020. Some say it will be 2022. Either way, it’s going to happen pretty soon.

Source: Moore’s Law is dead – Business Insider

Original article from Daily Reckoning.

Mark Turner : Past Gas, literally

July 01, 2015 02:44 AM

A backhoe digging in this ditch ruptured a gas main this morning

A backhoe digging in this ditch ruptured a gas main this morning


This morning I got to play hero, ironically driving our electric car with our “Past Gas” license plate.

I was driving to work as usual when I turned off of Hillsborough Street onto Ashe Avenue, a spot where a new apartment building is going up. As I go by, I see a construction leap off a backhoe and race across the road. Others scurried away as well, eyes wide with fear. It was then that I smelled natural gas and realized the deafening roar I was hearing was the sound of a busted gas main. Yikes!

I rolled down the road for a moment or two while frantically fumbling to unlock my phone to dial 911 (I temporarily forgot I can do this from the locked screen, but whatever). I blurted out what I saw and heard to the dispatcher and gave my name and number. Though the dispatcher told me they were already sending someone out, I didn’t see or hear any first responders so I took matters into my own hands. I figured I might not be trained in how to direct traffic but any idiot can block traffic, so I pulled my car across the oncoming lane and got my geeky yellow safety vest and my emergency light out from the trunk.

Many confused and sometimes angry drivers passed by. Many asked for detour directions. Some asked what was going on. A UPS driver was considerably pushy, blocking other traffic until he was allowed to deliver to a nearby building. One dude in a red pickup truck blew right by me, only to be told to turn around at the next intersection (dumbass). Buses, dump trucks, and bulldozers passed disturbingly close to my car as it sat in the other lane. I began to sweat in the rapidly warming sun.

About 20 minutes into my adventure a Raleigh Police officer drove up. He briefly looked me over before stopping to receive instructions from his radio.

“Who are you with?” he asked offhandly.

“I’m just a volunteer,” I responded, “but I am a police department volunteer.”

He nodded his head. “Well, thanks for being here.”

“Now that you’re here do you still need me around?” I asked.

“Maybe not,” he said. “But I might need you down there.” He pointed to the intersection closer to the leak.

He moved his cruiser to the intersection closer to the leak and returned on foot, saying it was okay to open up this part of the street and inviting me to join him. I drove down and stood with him for a bit as traffic weaved around us. Soon I was pointing at clueless drivers, trying to direct them away from us and towards the detour.

“Don’t waste your time,” the officer said. “They’ll figure it out. If you go pointing to them that’s all you’ll ever be doing.”

The jerk UPS driver, having gone to this apartment, now found himself blocked in. He inched his truck up behind us.

“The UPS guy wants to come through,” I mentioned to the cop.

“He can wait,” came the droll reply. Yes! That asshole driver gets his comeuppance! The officer eventually got around to letting him through but I was secretly pleased at how long he took!

The officer eventually noted that my car, parked (legally) on the side street, might be better off somewhere else as drivers were having to drive around it. I took the opportunity to depart, shaking his hand as I walked away. The leak in the line, said to be as big in diameter as a softball, was plugged about 20 minutes later.

It was an exciting way to start the day, and fortunately no one was hurt. Including me. I like to think that the emergency training I was given a few years back in my CERT classes kicked in, especially the part where if you come upon a scene and no one is doing anything, be the one who does something. Like my CERT training taught, I elected myself the “Incident Commander” and worked the scene until someone more qualified came along.

The day was hot enough without a natural gas fire.

Mark Turner : NSA can track everyone’s phone calls again — for a while – CNET

July 01, 2015 02:08 AM

Who needs the Patriot Act when a judge can simply extend NSA’s domestic spying with the stroke of a pen?

When did you last call your mother? Don’t worry if you can’t remember — the National Security Agency can once more keep track of that for you. That is, for the next 180 days.

After briefly suspending its bulk collection of phone call data, the NSA now has the authority to start it up again, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Source: NSA can track everyone’s phone calls again — for a while – CNET

Mark Turner : Daily Mail invents critics of Facebook’s “Celebrate Pride” feature

July 01, 2015 02:00 AM

A friend shared a story on a website called the “Conservative Post” called “Everyone Who Changed Their Facebook Photos To Rainbow Just Got DUPED.” I’m always curious of what gets my righty friends all worked up so I read it.

Conservative Post got duped

Conservative Post got duped

Over a million people changed their facebook profile pictures to a rainbow filter in support of gay marriage.

New reports reveal that the “Celebrate Pride” tool may not have been the best idea…

According to Daily Mail, this tool was actually Facebook’s way of performing psychological testing on their users.

Cesar Hidalgo wrote on Facebook yesterday. “The question is, how long will it take for people to change their profile pictures back to normal.”

Experts say that by setting up the tool, Facebook was able to get an unprecedented insight on how to influence their users.

Nowhere does the Conservative Post tell us who Cesar Hidalgo is (he’s with the MIT Media Lab) and what “the question is” that he’s quoted as asking. Short on facts, I clicked through to the original Daily Mail story. The story by Ellie Zolfagharifard was even more bombastic:

Daily Mail dupes its readers

Daily Mail dupes its readers

Did YOU change your Facebook picture to a rainbow flag? Critics claim ‘Celebrate Pride’ tool may be another psychological test

Your Facebook feed is probably looking a little more colourful this week.

In celebration of the Supreme Court’s approval of same-sex marriage, the site is offering users a tool to overlay their profile photos with a rainbow filter.

And it’s proved hugely popular. Within a few hours of the ‘Celebrate Pride’ tool launching, more than a million people changed their profile photos.

But while it may seem like Facebook’s intentions are noble, some people have accused the social network of carrying out another psychological test on its users.

‘This is probably a Facebook experiment!’ said the MIT network scientist Cesar Hidalgo on Facebook yesterday.

‘The question is, how long will it take for people to change their profile pictures back to normal.’

By setting up its own tool to let people filter their profile picture, the concern is that Facebook is able to get an unprecedented insight into how to influence people.

Well, no. This premise sounded seriously fishy, so I took the initiative to look up Mr. Cesar Hidalgo myself. Just as the story said, he has a Facebook account and, lo and behold, here’s the post from which he was quoted:

Cesar Hidalgo jokes about Facebook's Celebrate Pride feature.

Cesar Hidalgo jokes about Facebook’s Celebrate Pride feature.

This is probably a Facebook experiment! The question is how long will it take for people to change their profile pictures back to normal. :)

You’ll note that later in the comment thread, in response to a reporter’s question, Mr. Hidalgo clearly states that he was joking:
cesar-hidalgo-joking

Sure. I assume, you understand I am joking :)

So there we have it. The Daily Mail twisted what Mr. Hildago said, knowing it was a joke. It artfully turned this newly-created “critic” into the plural “critics” and then paired this fiction with two-year-old news reports of research Facebook has done in the past. Not only was Mr. Hildago never interviewed, he didn’t express “the concern Facebook is able to get an unprecedented insight into how to influence people.” In fact, it’s not clear whose concern this is, as for all the reader knows the author made it all up.

Voilà, a manufactured story sure to delight anyone embarrassed to have been caught on the wrong side of marriage history this week. At best, shoddy reporting. At worst, passing pure fiction off as fact. Not sure which I find scarier.

As of this writing, the Conservative Press post has been shared 22,605 times. Perhaps it’s not the rainbow-tinted Facebook denizens who’ve been duped?

Magnus Hedemark : quicktip: console cables

June 28, 2015 11:47 PM

Whether you’re an operations or network engineer, or a hobbyist tinkering in the homelab, there’s a good chance that you’ll have need of a console cable at some point in your efforts.

Way back when I used to keep a lot of old Sun hardware around, this was pretty easy. I had what was known as a null modem cable with a DB9 serial connector on both ends. I also had a DB9 to DB25 serial converter. This pretty much had my bases covered.

That was in the 20th century. Today the landscape has changed just a little bit. Thankfully, it seems that most vendors have standardized on the RJ45 connector. What they haven’t standardized on is the pinout. I’ll give you a combination that will work for most modern equipment, though.

Since most of us have laptops now, and all laptops have some flavor of USB, we’ll forget about the old school DB9 and DB25 connectors. What we’ll go with is USB on one end, RJ45 on the other, and is known as a rollover cable. This configuration will get you into most modern Cisco hardware, and anything else that wants a rollover cable. But what about other hardware that wants a straight through cable? Easy: attach a rollover converter to a rollover cable and you’ve got a straight through cable.

I’ll give you an easy shopping list:

Using this is super easy. If you ls /dev/tty.* you’ll see something that looks like /dev/tty.usbserial-AL00B27G (and any paired Bluetooth devices) as a result. I use this on my Macbook with a command line tool like screen or minicom as the terminal emulator. screen should have come with your Mac or Linux laptop, so it’s the easiest to get started with. screen /dev/tty.usbserial-AL00B27G should get you connected. The <CTRL>+<A>, <CTRL>+<\> key sequence will quit out of screen.


Magnus Hedemark : devices have different sector alignment

June 27, 2015 09:40 PM

[root@dogface ~]# zpool replace zones /dev/dsk/c0t50014EE2072AB3D4d0 /dev/dsk/c0t50014EE2B66D775Ed0
cannot replace /dev/dsk/c0t50014EE2072AB3D4d0 with /dev/dsk/c0t50014EE2B66D775Ed0: devices have different sector alignment

And that’s where things went wrong.

Oh, it all started as a really great weekend to be in the homelab. Four new Western Digital Red WD60EFRX 6TB disks had arrived, and I was ready to replace my four 2TB disks with them. I’d replaced the first two of four disks without a hitch. They were Western Digital Red WD2002FAEX 2TB disks. I’d been assuming for some time that I had four identical disks in this zpool, but forgot the compromise that I’d made way back when I first set this machine up: I’d used two Red disks and two Black disks (Western Digital Black WD2002FAEX 2TB). So when I tried to replace disk #3 of 4 in my zpool, things didn’t go as smoothly.

devices have different sector alignment

This changes everything. Those WD2002FAEX disks have a 512b sector alignment, while the new WD60EFRX disks have a 4k sector alignment. This fundamental difference in geometry was a tech debt landmine waiting for me to step on it.

I’m in the midst of a shell game right now that’s going to take days. I’m performing a recursive zfs send to a temporary pool that can handle the full contents of the zpool, and will rebuild the pool from that backup. There are ways to get by with no downtime, but this is okay as it’s a home server with nothing more critical than some DVD backups and a minecraft server on it (so far).

As part of this restructuring effort, I’m switching this HP Proliant N40L Microserver from SmartOS to OmniOS. I’ve already replaced the onboard SATA controller with an LSI 9211-8i SAS host bus adapter. The 5.25″ optical disk bay is going to be repurposed with a 4×2.5″ disk cage. 2x Samsung 850 Pro 128GB SSD‘s will be used as the root pool mirror (where the OS boots from). One more of the same type of disk will be used as the ZFS separate intent log (slog) device. I’m saving the fourth bay for a Samsung 850 Pro 1TB SSD (which I haven’t procured yet) to act as the ZFS cache (L2ARC) device.

Why put such an investment into such a silly little potato of a server if it’s just going to host a minecraft server and some DVD backups?

Because its mission scope is expanding. This server will host the backing store for a number of virtual machines that I’ll be running on several much more CPU and Memory equipped hypervisor systems. I’ll be writing more about that later.


Mark Turner : Calming Signals – The Art of Survival – Turid Rugaas – International Dog Trainer

June 27, 2015 11:22 AM

A glossary of signals dogs use to calm each other down. Very interesting.

For species who live in packs it´s important to be able to communicate with its own kind. Both in order to cooperate when they hunt, to bring up their offspring, and perhaps most importantly: to live in peace with each other. Conflicts are dangerous – they cause physical injuries and a weakened pack, which is something that no pack can afford – it will cause them to og extinct.

Dogs live in a world of sensory input: visual, olfactory, auditory perceptions. They easily perceive tiny details – a quick signal, a slight change in another´s behavior, the expression in our eyes. Pack animals are so perceptive to signals that a horse can be trained to follow the contraction in our pupils and a dog can be trained to answer your whispering voice. There´s no need to shout commands, to make the tone of our voice deep and angry – what Karen Pryor refers to as swatting flies with a shovel.

Source: Calming Signals – The Art of Survival – Turid Rugaas – International Dog Trainer

Mark Turner : Why mosquitoes bite some people and not others — and the surprising non-toxic way to avoid bites

June 27, 2015 02:38 AM

Here’s an insightful read on what attracts (and repels) mosquitoes. Science for the win!

Why are some people so much more attractive to mosquitoes than others? And what can you do about the pesky little bloodsuckers, especially if you don’t want to resort to DEET? (DEET, while effective, is also weakly neurotoxic in humans.)

To start, there are some 150 different species of mosquitoes in the United States, and they differ in biting persistence, habits, ability to transmit disease, and even flying ability.

Source: Why mosquitoes bite some people and not others — and the surprising non-toxic way to avoid bites

Mark Turner : Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: ‘Sure, Who Cares’ – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

June 27, 2015 02:32 AM

Love won today, as the Supreme Court ruled marriage is marriage for everybody. I’m thrilled for my LGBT friends (and everyone, frankly) who are no longer denied the fundamental right to love whom they choose.

It reminded me of this article from the Onion a few years back, which pretty much sums up my thoughts about the whole matter.

WASHINGTON—Ten minutes into oral arguments over whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to marry one another, a visibly confounded Supreme Court stopped legal proceedings Tuesday and ruled that gay marriage was “perfectly fine” and that the court could “care less who marries whom.”

Source: Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: ‘Sure, Who Cares’ – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

Mark Turner : What makes your eyes red in the pool? It’s not the chlorine – TODAY.com

June 27, 2015 02:25 AM

Ewww.

“When we go swimming and we complain that our eyes are red, it’s because swimmers have peed in the water,” says Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s healthy swimming program. “The nitrogen in the urine combines with the chlorine and it forms what’s known as chloramine and it’s actually chloramine that causes the red eyes. It’s not the chlorine itself. It’s chlorine mixed with poop and sweat and a lot of other things we bring into the water with us.”

Source: What makes your eyes red in the pool? It’s not the chlorine – TODAY.com

Tarus Balog : Review: Dell XPS 13 (9343) Ubuntu Edition

June 26, 2015 08:10 PM

Okay. When it comes to tech, I want the latest and greatest. To me, the “greatest” must include as much open software as possible. As an ex-Apple user, I want the same experience I used to get with that gear, but with free and open source software.

It can be hard. Rarely is the open source world involved in new hardware decisions by the major vendors, so we learn about new devices after the fact. Thus there is an inevitable delay between when a product is announced and when it properly works with FOSS.

Such was the case with the new XPS 13 laptop from Dell.

Now, I vote with my wallet, so back in 2012 when I needed a laptop I bought the second edition “Sputnik” Dell XPS 13, which shipped with Ubuntu. It served me well for many years and currently runs Linux Mint 17.1 with no problems. When the latest edition XPS 13 was announced, I immediately ordered it, but it didn’t work out so well.

When I discovered that the other option from Dell, the M3800, wasn’t for me, I decided to wait until they officially supported Ubuntu on the new XPS 13. I didn’t have to wait long, and I placed my order the day I learned it was available (I was happy to learn that they had to fix some kernel-level issues and it wasn’t just me).

Why didn’t I wait longer? The XPS 13 is gorgeous. I haven’t felt this strongly about a laptop since my 12-inch Powerbook back in 2013. Others seem to agree, with even Forbes praising this machine.

Anyway, the order process was simple. I got the XPS 13 with the i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and the HiDPI touchscreen. The laptop arrived about a week before it was scheduled. Go Dell.

Now for the obligatory unboxing pictures. The outer box arrived undamaged:

Dell XPS 13 Unboxing Pic 1

The laptop itself came in a separate box:

Dell XPS 13 Unboxing Pic 2

with the accessories shipped in a cardboard “square tube”:

Dell XPS 13 Unboxing Pic 3

While the small power supply came with a longer power cable with a “mickey mouse” connector, the XPS 13 comes with a small adapter that gets rid of the cable entirely (like the Apple laptop power bricks).

Dell XPS 13 Unboxing Pic 4

The laptop pretty much fills up its box:

Dell XPS 13 Unboxing Pic 5

Like with my original XPS, there is a cool little intro video that plays when you first start it up:

Please note that it only runs on the first start – you will not have to wait 40+ seconds to boot your system (usually less than 10).

The XPS 13 Ubuntu Developer Edition ships with 14.04, but I had some issues with it. First, it didn’t have the option for encrypting the home directory. I’m not sure how or why that got removed. The system also crashed when I attempted to make a backup image to a USB stick. Finally, there are apparently still outstanding issues with 14.04:

Ubuntu 14.04 includes kernel 3.13. The touchpad will run in PS2 mode and the soundcard will run in HDA mode. Currently (4/15) out of the box the HDA microphone will not work, and you will need some packages from the factory shipped image to make it work properly.

While I knew I was going to base the system, I logged in to the stock image to check out the apt repository. There really wasn’t anything outside of the vanilla Ubuntu (the few Dell packages seem to be just for recovery) so I felt fairly safe in reinstalling.

I immediately went to my default distro, Linux Mint 17.1, but found that a lot of things, especially the touchpad, didn’t work as expected. It did handle HiDPI screens just fine (you could actually see the mouse pointer increase in size when logging in). I figured I’d wait until 17.2 comes out and try it again.

On a side note, I don’t know why it is so hard to get a decent touchpad under Linux. We’re getting closer, but still, it tends to be the weakest point of the Linux laptop experience.

In search of a solution, I found Barton’s Blog and read the following:

With BIOS A00 or BIOS A01 the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound will not function. Please update to at least BIOS A02 and the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound in HDA mode. (4/15) All of the relevant patches have been backported and all functions will work out of the box.

I really liked the “will work out of the box” bit, so I installed Ubuntu 15.04.

It had been awhile since I’d used Unity, and it has really matured. I especially liked the little touches. When I changed my desktop background, the background of the Dock changed color to match it. Neat.

Where Unity still has some way to go is in HiDPI support. There is a scaling factor you can set, but it only applies to a small part of the UI. I still ended up having to customize many of my apps. For example, if you look at the settings page with scaling, a lot of the text under the icons are cropped:

Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu Text Cropped

Not a show stopper, and I used it for over a month without getting too annoyed.

Last week I saw that the release candidate for Mint 17.2 was out, so I dutifully backed up my Ubuntu install, based the system and installed Mint. Things seems to work better (although HiDPI support was not working by default), but I ran into a weird problem with trying to click and drag.

While everyone seems to deal with trackpads differently, the way I click and drag is to use the index finger of my left hand to click and hold the lower left corner of the trackpad, and then I use the index finger of my right hand to move the mouse pointer. This works fine under most desktop environments, but under Cinnamon it seems to interpret it as a right click (which usually causes a menu to drop down). If I just used a single finger to click on the window header and then move it, it worked as expected, but I couldn’t get used to it enough to continue to use it.

Oh well. I’ve posted a question on the Mint forums but no one has been able to help.

Anyhoos, since my system was based I decided to try out some other 15.04-based distros while I had the chance. I had heard great things about the new Plasma interface in KDE, so Kubuntu was next.

I can’t say much about Kubuntu since its HiDPI support is worse than Unity. Everything was so tiny I couldn’t spend much time in the UI. Oh well, what I saw was pretty.

And I should stress that this was a recurring theme in my experiments with desktop environments. Every UI I’ve tried has been beautiful and more than able to compete with, say, OS X.

By this point I decided to punt and just search on “Linux Desktop HiDPI”. Several of the results touted that Ubuntu Gnome was the best desktop to use for HiDPI systems. So, before going back to Unity I decided to give it a shot.

Wow.

I haven’t used Gnome 3 in awhile, but I was encouraged in that even the install process handled the HiDPI screen well. It has become really mature, and so far has provided by far the best experience with the XPS 13. I’ve had to do little to get it to work for me.

Is it flawless? No. There is an issue with the touchpad where it occasionally translates touches into click (kernel patch approved). If you sleep the system, the touchscreen will stop working (but you can reload its module). Sometimes, the system doesn’t sleep when you close the screen, which can cause the laptop to get really, really hot.

But these are minor issues and I expect them to be addressed in the near future. I am confident that I’ve found a great combination of software and hardware, and that it will only get better from here.

I have just a few more notes to share. The battery life is outstanding – I can get 6-7 hours of use without recharging. The “infinity screen” is beautiful and bright, but by having almost no bezel they had to move the camera to the lower left corner, which creates a slightly odd viewing angle.

Dell XPS 13 Camera Angle

In closing, here are a couple of shots comparing the XPS 13 with the M3800.

Dell XPS 13 vs. M3800 Pic 1

Dell XPS 13 vs. M3800 Pic 2

Dell XPS 13 vs. M3800 Pic 3

Tarus Balog : 2015 Dev-Jam: Day Four

June 26, 2015 03:06 PM

Since I sincerely doubt even my loyal readers get to the bottom of my long posts, I figured I’d start this one with the group picture:

Dev-Jam Group Picture

That antenna behind Goldy’s head is part of Jonathan’s project to use OpenNMS to collect and aggregate FunCube data from around the world. Can I get an “Internet of Things“? (grin)

There is this myth that just by making your software open source, thousands of qualified developers will give up their spare time to work on your project. While there are certainly projects with lots of developers, I am humbled by the fact that we have 30-40 hard core people involved with OpenNMS.

Unless you’ve gone through this, it is hard to understand. At one time, OpenNMS was pretty much me in my attic and an IRC channel. Luckily for the project that didn’t last long. My one true talent is getting amazing people to work with me. Then all I have to do is create an environment where they can be awesome.

It’s why I love Dev-Jam.

I also love pizza. Chris at Papa Johns was kind enough to send us some free pie for dinner:

Dev-Jam Pizza

Today we spent time talking about documentation. Documentation tends to be the weak point of a lot of software, and open source software in particular. The Arch Linux people do about the best job I’ve seen, but even then it is hard to keep everything current. For over a year now a group of people has been working very hard to improve the documentation for OpenNMS, and the new documentation site is most excellent.

It does take a little time to understand the navigation. The documentation is included in the source and managed on GitHub, so there is a new version for each release. But just as an example, check out the Administrator’s Guide for 16.0.2.

Written in AsciiDoc, it is now the best place for accurate information on how to use the software. We also want to extend a special thanks to the Atom project for creating the editor used to create it.

One of the things we discussed was how to deal with the wiki and the .org website. It’s not practical to duplicate the AsciiDoc information on the wiki, so the plan is to include the relevant part from the documentation in something like an iframe and use the wiki more for user stories. The “talk” page can then be used for suggestions on improving the documentation, and once those suggestions are merged they can be removed.

I had suggested that we make the wiki page the default landing page for the .org site, but Markus pointed out that we need to do a better job of marketing OpenNMS, and the landing page should be more about “why to use OpenNMS” versus “how”. I had to agree, as we need to do a better job of marketing the software. My friend Waleed pointed out in Twitter this weakness:

Twitter Comment 1 from Waleed

Twitter Comment 2 from Waleed

To better educate folks about why OpenNMS is so amazing, we are considering merging the .com and .org sites and using the .com WordPress instance for the “why you should use OpenNMS” with a very obvious link to the wiki so people can learn how to use OpenNMS. Part of me has always wanted to keep the project and commercial aspects of OpenNMS separate, but it then becomes really hard to maintain both sites.

In case you haven’t guessed, we do spend a lot of time thinking about stuff like this. (grin)

Dev-Jam Thursday

A lot of other cool stuff got done on Thursday. DJ announced that he had separated out the unit tests in OpenNMS (for features) from the integration tests (for regression). OpenNMS has nearly 7,000 junit tests (and growing). It’s the main way we insure that nothing breaks as we work to add new things to the software. But with so many tests it can take a real long time to see if your commit worked or not. This should make things easier for the developers.

It’s hard to believe that Dev-Jam is almost over. Luckily, it sets the stage for the next year’s worth of work. Since our goal is nothing less than making OpenNMS the de facto network management platform of choice, there is a lot of work to be done.

Tarus Balog : Review: Nexus 6

June 25, 2015 08:24 PM

As most of my three readers know by now, I was a big fan of the OnePlus One handset until I experienced their customer support (which seems intent on covering up a major defect in the touchscreen of their devices).

So, it was time to get another smart phone. Andrea had been using a Nexus 6 for awhile, I thought the phone might be too big for me. The phone is huge.

David pointed out that the OnePlus was huge compared to my previous HTC One, and it only took me a day or so to get used to that size change, so I’d probably feel the same way about the Nexus 6.

He was right.

I ordered it from the Play Store and it showed up a couple of days later. The name of the phone was actually on the bottom of the box:

Nexus 6 Unboxing Pic 1

and once I cut the “tape” I flipped it over so I could open it.

Nexus 6 Unboxing Pic 2

The phone sits in a little cardboard cradle

Nexus 6 Unboxing Pic 3

and if you remove it you can see a little packet with documentation.

Nexus 6 Unboxing Pic 4

Under that is a high amp charger and that’s about it.

Nexus 6 Unboxing Pic 5

The phone has a gorgeous display and its six inch screen is big enough that I can watch movies on it, so I loaned my Nexus 7 (that I used to use when traveling) to Ben so he could play with OpenNMS Compass on Android.

Nexus 6 Specs

It’s also blazingly fast, but all that power does come with a price: battery life. With the OnePlus I could easily go a day, even with playing Ingress to some degree, the Nexus 6 needs a little more juice. It is in no way horrible, and is much better than the HTC One, but it is still a factor. I just ended up buying a TYLT wireless charger for my desk so I can sit the handset there all day and it stays charged (yay wireless charging).

I did buy a case for the phone but that pushed it over the size limit for even my large hands. Caseless, I was worried about dropping it, so I bought a “grip” pad that sticks to the back and makes it feel less like a slippery bar of soap. So far so good.

The best thing is that, thanks in large part to Jake Whatley, I can now put OmniROM on it. It was a pretty simple process to unlock the phone using adb, install TWRP and then flash the latest OmniROM nightly. I was surprised at how much my Android experience was truncated by the stock ROM. I couldn’t shake my phone to dismiss an alarm or augment the power menu to add options like a reboot instead of just powering off. So far no problems.

The size of the Nexus 6 will be off-putting for some, but it is about the same size as an iPhone 6 Plus, so perhaps not.

Nexus 6 vs. iPhone 6+

As I was investigating alternative ROMs for the Nexus 6, I thought it was funny when I found out the code name for the device. Nexus devices tend to be named after fish.

The code name for the Nexus 6? Shamu.

Tarus Balog : Review: LG Watch Urbane

June 25, 2015 05:35 PM

Even though I am no longer a user of Apple products, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the Apple Watch. Why? Because Steve Jobs had a way of making stuff for me that I didn’t know I wanted. While I’ve owned an LG G Watch R for awhile now, the experience hasn’t been life changing (unlike using an iPhone was) and so I was looking for Apple to really “wow” me.

My friend Ben (who knows more about Apple products than anyone I know) thinks I’m more critical of Apple than the fiercest “fanboi” and he’s probably right, so I want to make sure to expressly state that I haven’t used an Apple Watch so anything I say about it needs to be taken in that context.

However, Matthew Inman, another person whose opinion I respect, recently did a comic on his experience with the Apple Watch, and his experience is very similar to mine with Android Wear. It’s interesting, it has potential, but it isn’t life changing … yet.

To me, my watch is like having a second screen on my phone. Remember when people first started getting dual monitors? It’s like that – it makes me more productive when using my phone but it is more of an extension than a feature in and of itself.

The main thing my watch gives me is a socially acceptable way to keep up with notifications. If I’m in a meeting, or at a meal, or in any other social situation where pulling out my phone and looking at it would be rude, I can glance at my watch and see if I need to address that text or e-mail.

The main difference between Wear devices and the Apple Watch is that the latter has a crown that spins and can be used scroll the display. Inman points out that he doesn’t use it, and so you are pretty safe choosing the smart watch you like that works best in your digital ecosystem.

The main thing I want from a watch is a stylish accessory that actually looks like a watch. Enter the LG Watch Urbane.

Urbane Watch Face

After my horrible experience with the OnePlus One phone, I was shopping for a replacement handset when I came across the Watch Urbane. I fell in love immediately.

I got the G Watch R because it looked like a watch and not a slab of glass. The Urbane takes that experience to a new level by adding a rose gold bezel and a nice leather strap. The display is amazing. The default watch faces are amazing. In short it is the perfect evolution for my favorite smart watch to date.

It’s a powerful watch with great battery life. While I tend to charge it overnight, I can get over two days of normal use out of it easily (I’ve had to test that when flying overseas).

Urbane Specifications

I bought it on Amazon, and it showed up protected in a rather easy to open plastic cover:

Urbane Unboxing Pic 1

The box was similar to other mechanical watches I have bought:

Urbane Unboxing Pic 2

and opening it immediately revealed the watch:

Urbane Unboxing Pic 3

The band was a little stiff at first, but after wearing it for a day or so it softened up a bit.

Urbane Unboxing Pic 4

It came with a number of accessories. Like the LG G Watch R it requires a charging cradle that is powered via a microUSB connector.

Urbane Unboxing Pic 5

The Urbane was one of the first watches to ship with the Andoird Wear 5.1.1 update that allows for such things as talking to the phone over Wi-Fi, but about a day after I got the watch the update was generally available for other devices, including my G Watch R.

Urbane vs. G Watch R

The Urbane is a little smaller, and while I liked the “tick” marks around the outside of the G Watch R, so many watch faces include them due to the popularity of the Moto 360 that I was happy to see them removed on the Urbane (having two sets of tick marks is a little cluttered).

While I still wear the G Watch R if I’m going to be active (i.e. sweating), the Urbane is my go-to wrist accessory. I am constantly getting compliments on it, and I think the biggest problem LG has is that no one has heard of it.

Perhaps this post will help.