Trailblazing

Notes by Stephen Michael Kellat

Ruminating on Black Friday

2014-11-28 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as community

Today is a special day for retailers in the United States of America. Black Friday is a day when retailers traditionally got their sales into the positive for the year (otherwise known as the black from accounting lingo). Many shoppers will be seeking great buys. Having worked in retail as a salesman in consumer electronics retail I will not be venturing out into the madness unless some unforeseen emergency arises.

Something important will be missing as shoppers swarm stores. There won't be installation media for any flavor of Ubuntu. There won't be any Ubuntu Phone or Ubuntu Touch devices on the shelves for purchase. There won't be anything audacious like a scaled down version of the Orange Box demonstrator of Metal As A Service that people could buy to build their own in-home "dark" infrastructure.

This isn't the year when we have something customer-facing in mass market retail. We need to get something out there soon. Our story is one to be shared with the average consumer.

Entering the Linux realm should not be a treasure hunt. We've moved a long way from the 20+ floppy disks for Slackware. We're not totally there yet for the consumer except in two very, very limited cases.

Thanksgiving Note

2014-11-27 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as community

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States of America. My Canadian relations may quibble over the month Thanksgiving actually takes place in but it is in fact happening today in the United States of America. I'm off enjoying the holiday but this blog post like most this week should have been automatically posted. If you need to reach me about community/governance matters, today is probably not a good day to try.

Pondering Contingencies

2014-11-26 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as community

Preparedness is an odd topic. As people in the United States might have recalled from last week, snow abounded in certain parts of the country. Although not located in the New York State community of Buffalo, I am located down the Lake Erie shoreline in Ashtabula. I too am seasonally afflicted with Lake Effect Snow Storms.

Heck, I have even seen Thunder Snow!

Following the major snow, I got to see "High Wind Warning". That was not fun as it did lead to a blackout. The various UPS units around the house started screaming. Once that happened I had multiple systems to shut down. The Xubuntu meeting log this week even shows me shutting down things while departing mid-way. As you might imagine, overhead electrical lines do not play nicely with 50 mile per hour wind gusts.

When using a computer, you never truly have an ideal environment for the bare metal to operate in. Although contemporary life leaves the impression that electricity and broadband service should be constant let alone stable, bad things do happen. I already have multiple UPS units scattered around as it is.

Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Secretary of Defense, had a saying that fits:

As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

I live in what is termed by our census officials a "Micropolitan Statistical Area" compared to a "Metropolitan Statistical Area" so I know it is small. I know our infrastructure is not the greatest. Planning ahead means being ready to be without electricity for an extended period of time here.

While the Buffalo Bills football team had to move their home game to Detroit due to their stadium filling with snow, imagine the flooding aftermath that may happen when that snow melts. Extreme cases like that are hard to plan for but at least the game is going to happen somewhere. What contingencies have you at least thought about working around?

Verifying Verification

2014-11-25 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as community

Please remember that this is written by myself alone. Any reference to "we" below either refers to the five human beings that currently comprise the LoCo Council that I am part of or to the Ubuntu Realm in general. I apologize for any difficulties or consternation caused.


From the perspective of a community team, it can seem daunting when a "case management" bug is imposed relative to Verification or Re-Verification of a team. Many people wonder what that may mean. It might seem like a lot of work. It truly isn't.

In the Verification process, LoCo Council is checking to see if a community team has taken care of setting up some bare minimums. There is a basic expectation of some baseline things that all community teams should possess. Those items include:

Some things that are useful to mention in a write-up to the LoCo Council include but are not limited to:

This doesn't have to be a magnum opus of literary works. An application for this does not even need copious pictures. What the Council needs are just the facts so that members of the Council can look at a glance to review where your community stands. From there we end up asking what your community's needs are and how the Council might assist you. If you've taken over three hours to put together the application, you may have possibly put too much effort into it. It is meant to be a quick process instead of a major high-stakes presentation.

We have only a fraction of community teams checked out to show that they in fact have baseline items set up. We could increase that in this cycle to be much better. There is a page on the wiki with links to a template for building your teams own application. If your team isn't currently verified, you can write to the Council at loco-council@lists.ubuntu.com to set up a time and date when the Council can consider such.

Our Tools: MORE POWER

2014-11-24 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as community

Once the blog post by Jono Bacon hit about seeking a reboot in community governance, multiple threads bloomed in several directions. Things have wandered away from the original topic of governance structures to hit more vague, more general issues. To an extent I metaphorically keep biting my tongue about saying much more in the thread.

I do know that I have put forward the notion that we attempt an export to EPUB format of the xubuntu-docs package documentation. This, in part, is to help potentially ease a threshold for access. With the e-reader devices that do exist you could access the documentation on a separate device to read while you sit at the computer. This is only meant as an exploratory experimental notion rather than a commitment to ship.

In light of the feedback complaining about how DocBook can be difficult to address, sometimes it can be appropriate to test some of its power and show it off. DocBook has quite a lot of power to it if you have the ability to leverage it. With the variety of ways it can be exported into other formats than just the HTML files we already see shipped in Xubuntu, we can test new ways of shipping.

To the outsider, many of the processes used in creation of the various flavors of Ubuntu may seem like they can be simplified as they seem unnecessarily complicated. In some cases, we have excess power and flexibility built in for future expansion. In the times between Long Term Support releases we may need to take the time to show those who wish to join the community the power of our toolsets and what we can do with them.

Checking Links Post-Snow

2014-11-23 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as community

There may have been a ton of snowfall in the Lake Erie shore region susceptible to "Lake Effect" over the past week. We have had some warming up.

Thankfully we haven't had infrastructure failures. There had been some fears of that. A week has come to a close and a new one is to begin.

Why You Might Not See Me At UOS 1411

2014-11-06 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as infrastructure

Even though Ubuntu Online Summit November 2014 is next week, there is a chance I may not be actively participating. For somebody who serves on a governance body in the community that can be problematic. In this case, some circumstances remain beyond my control.

My broadband provider remains Time Warner Cable which remains in the middle of acquisition approval proceedings. Eventually it may be approved for being gobbled up by Comcast. I do not have any insider knowledge on that at all. Time Warner Cable is the only provider that meets the most recent definition of a broadband provider in my part of Ashtabula County in northeast Ohio.

Having a single monopoly provider can be problematic. As of late we have been switched to "digital television" at home. The channels pixelate frequently to unintelligibility. Broadband service drops out at the weirdest times. Access to Internet mainstays like Yahoo! can magically disappear for hours. Service is not reliable. For the current use profile, though, there are no functional alternatives. The local DSL provider offers significantly slower speeds and is almost blacklisted by Netflix. Wireless broadband via cellular carriers end up being a license for the carriers to print money. Satellite-based Internet such as HughesNet is a non-starter due to high propensity for rain fade on signals due to local precipitation patterns as well as being known for "lake effect snow storms".

If I am in attendance, IRC presence is most likely. If I manage to be on-camera, hopefully I do not disappear. Anything can happen but local infrastructure fails at the strangest times.

Heck, I am up to 3 UPS units scattered around the house now due to some fragile spots in the local electrical distribution system...

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This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

An ALL-CALL

2014-09-04 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as announcements, roughcuts

The following message was sent as an ALL-CALL to all members of Ubuntu Ohio regardless of their subscription status to the team's Launchpad-based mailing list.

This is an all-call to Ubuntu Ohio.

For the purposes of Ubuntu Global Jam I would like to schedule regional keysignings. Setting up an all-state single gathering is not looking doable at this time. With our not participating in Ohio Linux Fest this year setting things up regionally would seem appropriate.

For those living in any of the following counties I want to set up an event in perhaps Kirtland, Kent, or somewhere in Geagua County: Lorain, Cuyahoga, Medina, Summit, Portage, Trumbull, Geagua, Lake, Ashtabula, Wayne, Stark, and Mahoning. It will be ideal if anybody in the community with proper connections can get us space to meet in on Kent State University's Kent Campus. Relative to Kirtland as a meeting point, I can either contact Kirtland Public Library or talk to Lakeland Community College to get space. As to Geauga County for a meeting point I will be open for suggestions.

No, we will not attempt to go for an inconvenient location such as The Lodge at Geneva State Park in Ashtabula County for the group of counties listed above.

For other portions of the state, I am open to ideas for organization as to where you would like to get together and how wide a net you would like to cast. Please contribute those on the community's mailing list at ubuntu-us-ohio@lists.launchpad.net

If you are interested in participating in this face-to-face event you need to express interest on the mailing list and indicate both what county you live in and your preferred date to get together. We need expressions of interest by NO LATER THAN 10 PM local time on Friday night. Ubuntu Global Jam runs September 12th-14th and Monday will be a day to scramble to get meeting places set up. Instructions on what to bring for the keysigning would be provided by Tuesday night so as to prepare if enough interest is expressed.

For the purposes of this all-call, "enough interest" is going to be defined as a minimum of 3 people other than the person heading up the keysigning session commiting on-list to attend.

If there any questions, please contact the Ohio leadership team by way of this contact form: https://launchpad.net/~ubuntu-us-ohio-council/+contactuser

Thank you for your time and patience.

Stephen Michael Kellat
Leader/Point of Contact, Ubuntu Ohio

Restart

2014-08-19 by Stephen Michael Kellat, tagged as miscellany, roughcuts, thoughts

Eventually even a blog can be brought back to life. A simple list may be best in order, for now, at the very least:

New GnuPG key

2014-05-18 by Stephen Michael Kellat
9C4B2D87 is the new small-c canonical GnuPG key for me.