Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Moving Begins

It's sort of been in progress for a while, at least planning. But I feel like Karen and I have actually started the process of moving back to the mainland. I'll miss Hawaii and I know Karen will, but we really need to be back on the mainland. Hawaii will become a periodically visited former home for us.

Our target move date for leaving the island is April 16. There are a lot of variables at play, which is why I call it the target date. So what are we doing now?

We have been packing, shipping, and getting rid of many things. Pretty much all of my stuff from the office except what I use for my job on a daily basis is now back in New England. I make a few trips to FedEx and USPS each week to drop off something. Karen has been doing a great job going through our household things figuring out what we can donate, what we want to keep, and what is really just destined for the trash.

One room at a time, it'll get done. It occurred to me the other day that I'm about to send in our last full rent check. It's sort of strange. Honolulu is now the place I've lived the longest post-university. Not just the city, but even the apartment.

We are getting excited about returning to New England. Seasons, sports on TV at night, Amazon Prime, CSA, road trips, skiing, rail, larger cider selection for Karen, Vermont and New York cheeses, Sound Bites in Ball Square, non 5 or 6 hour difference to call friends and family, Trader Joe's, and massive tax savings by moving to MASSACHUSETTS!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Laptops Laptops Laptops

My ThinkPad X301 decided to enter failure mode while I was at FUDCon Tempe. I travelled with two laptops, so I was still able to get online, but the ThinkPad is my primary development system. The other laptop was really just for email, IRC, and web browsing.

I waited until I was back in Honolulu to get the X301 serviced. That ended up becoming 2 weeks of phone tag between me, Lenovo, and IBM. As well as some other interested/concerned parties wanting to learn more about why my laptop was still not working. As of today, the system board, wireless card, battery, and fan have all been replaced. The SSD is on order and will be here at the end of the month.

Based on the condition of the X301, my employer overnaught me a T60 so I could get my development environment back up and running. The T60 arrived on Tuesday and it took me a day to get it reinstalled and data restored (in between working on things via my netbook).

Lastly, before all of this started, I decided to order myself a new personal system. I bought a ThinkPad X201 and it arrived today. So I now have three ThinkPads in my office, two of which are usable.

I am really tired of FedEx coming by to drop off or take laptop parts, IBM coming by, and Lenovo calling me. I appreciate the concern, but really I would have just preferred the depot warranty service rather than the onsite service. It has been a colassal waste of my time.

While the situation has been irritating, I suffered no data loss from the incident. And getting new systems back to the same state as the X301 has been easy. I keep a collection of kickstart files for all of my systems that do an install the way I prefer (partitioning, package set, system systems, etc) and then run a number of postinstall scripts to configure things necessary for work and my own use. I back up my data each night to tape, so restoring /home was a matter of plugging in the tape drive and using tar.

I'll probably post more information about the X301 repair story later.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FUDCon Tempe 2011 - Recap

I see lots of FUDCon Tempe recap posts on planet.fp.o, so here's mine. I have to say this was the best FUDCon I've been to yet, in terms of:
  • Participants
  • Work accomplished
  • Sessions
  • Venue
Most important to me were going over anaconda feature planning for the next few releases of Fedora. Visit the wiki page for ongoing details. Summary: we have a lot of work coming up.

This is not to say that every past FUDCon is terrible. They are all unique in their own ways, but I felt that this one in particular had a lot of people from all over the world who benefited from getting together for a few days, a great location (so no one in bad moods because of the weather), and good amenities. All that said, I think FUDCon could make some improvements for future events. So here are my lists:

  • The booklet. Whoever came up with this idea is brilliant. This was hands down one of the greatest advancements in FUDCon events ever. Sure, we put things on the wiki, but having a quick non-computer reference for the most important stuff was fantastic. A letter from Jared, explanation of what a bar camp is, one page map with the buildings we need to care about highlighted, lists of restaurants and stores, and a schedule with blank spaces so we could fill it in after the bar camp voting was done. Perfect! I also really liked how it came with errata in the form of a sticker on the second page. Great forward thinking here, given that locations always change at the last minute.
  • The venue. Most FUDCons I've been to have been on a university campus, this one was no exception. ASU was in a good location and had usable wifi AND wired network access for us. Also, the network could handle FUDCon user capacity without falling over. Big win there.
  • The hotel. I was in the Courtyard Marriott. It was within walking distance of ASU and restaurants, had free usable wifi in the lobby, and had wired network access in the rooms. The hotel also gets points for having a liquor license that covered the lobby so we could freely drink in the hotel common area during our social events (for non-US readers, liquor license restrictions vary by state and municipality and can get really strange, most Americans assume you _can't_ have alcohol somewhere unless explicitly told it's ok.)
  • The city. I had never been to Tempe and was pleased to find it a good fit for FUDCon. There were great restaurant and socializing options, nearby stores for those who forgot equipment or toiletries, and light rail connection to Phoenix (I didn't use it for this, but heard others did). Tempe also features the Tempe Butte sort of in the middle of the town. I know at least two FUDCon people who went to the top on the last day.
  • The sessions. There were a lot of great session ideas pitched. I ended up doing two myself, but the ones I was able to attend were great.
  • The people. When the right Fedora people are in the same place for a few days, good things happen. You could see this just by wandering around the lobby on the session days, the rooms on the hackfest day, or just the hotel lobby.
  • The social events. I did not attend FUDPub because jet lag caught up with me, but the social events at the hotel were great. I think we overestimated the beverage needs, but I guess it's better to have more than to have not enough.
  • The availability of beefy miracle tshirts.
  • No food or drink in the classrooms at ASU. I did not care about the food so much, but not being able to have drinks in the rooms when our sessions run back to back was a bit of a disappointment.
  • Limited whiteboard availability during the hackfests on the last day.
  • Far less usable wifi on the hackfest day, most likely related to the fact that we were in the student union building that day.
  • The hotel was next to a Union Pacific rail line (as in across the street) level crossing. I was fortunate enough to be on the other side of the hotel, but for people close to the tracks, FUDCon organizers distributed ear plugs.
Beefy Miracle:
Weird Things Noticed In Arizona:
  • Arizona law requires a copy of the US constitution be on display in every public classroom in the state (the link I provided specifics grades 7 through 12, not sure where ASU fits in to that).
  • Outdoor seating is common at restaurants, but they put huge propane heaters next to tables. I guess the Arizona locals really want their winter to be like their excruciatingly hot summers?
  • Locals wore coats.
Things That Could Be Done Better Next Time (event and for myself):
  • We had too much soda and liquor for the social events. I guess it's better to have too much than not enough.
  • I would like to see Coke Zero provided amongst the event sodas.
  • I brought two extension cords this time, one with 3 outlets on the end. Proved useful on hackfest day, but I should have also brought a wifi router so we could all easily link up for hacking.
  • Needed some Ethernet patch cables.
  • I need to verify the functionality of both laptops I take before leaving on the trip. My ThinkPad X301 was dead in the water at the event, so I only had my netbook.
  • The booklet was really useful, but I'd like it to be closer to pocket sized than US letter sized. I'm thinking half the dimensions of US letter would be sufficient.
In conclusion, great event. I'd like to thank the entire anaconda team for making it. It was the first time we were able to have a meeting with all of us in person.

Also thanks to everyone involved with event planning and coordination. I'm sure I'm likely to forget names, but the ones that come to mind are Jared Smith, Robin Bergeron, Ryan Rix, and Ian Weller. If I forgot your name and you were involved with event planning, post a comment or email me and I'll correct this post. You guys did a great job with this event!

And now I'm back in gloomysunny Honolulu awaiting my next trip to the mainland. If any Fedora people want to have a mini FUDCon in Honolulu some weekend, let me know.