Posts Tagged ‘youdevsareawesome’

On Yearly Themes, Revisited

December 25th, 2020 No comments

2020: The Year Thatโ€ฆWell, Wasn’t

I have long been a fan of the works of Myke Hurley and CGP Grey, especially their productivity podcast Cortex. Every year since 2018, they have spoken not about New Year’s resolutions — which are ephemeral by nature — but instead about a yearly theme, more a broad concept or category of self-improvement than a specific promise or goal. I absolutely love this idea and have since been implementing it myself, but only this past year started doing it formally through written journalling. (Please see the linked page for more details and explanatory podcast episodes about it.)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked quite a lot of plans for quite a lot of people, those of myself included. My year of 2020 was supposed to the Year of Positive Discomfort, forcing myself to break out of my comfort zone in small but beneficial ways. But 2020 and the ongoing pandemic have easily put a halt to that, as many of its goals were things like “be more social”, “join some interesting clubs”, and so on…very little of which has been feasible or even possible.

My Yearly Themes for 2021

However, thanks to the recently-approved COVID-19 vaccines, 2021 will assuredly bring the pandemic to an end (yay!), and with that end, the self-improvement that 2020 could not. In addition, I’ve discovered a rather bad habit of myself that I’d like to reduce, so my 2021 will have two overarching themes:

  • Year of Positive Discomfort; and
  • Year of Intent.

The specifics of both are too personal to reveal (yet); but suffice it to say that Positive Discomfort as a theme is simply the continuation of my previous yearly theme into 2021, with some adaptations (e.g., for socialization being almost entirely virtual now).

What of the second theme, though? “Intent”? Through my (admittedly sparse) journalling in 2020, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the things that upset me significantly were due to my time being spent in ways that I do not want, or in ways that aren’t helpful to me as a young adult becoming my own person, or (in one particular case) being spent with the wrong group of poeple. This year will be different: My time is my own. I’m going to make sure how I spend it is much more of my own volition, and much less simply letting things happen to/around me. What I do will be much more intentional and with far more direct reasoning than simply “to pass time.” Nothing gets added to my calendar without my explicit approval. I, and I alone, will be the arbiter of my own action choices, not some third party (however well-intentioned they may be).

My Theme System Journal

This is where the Theme System Journal comes into play: It allows me to easily and effectively chart my progress, and keep track of my themes, goals, and related tasks. The Theme System Journal is split into three sections: Yearly Themes, Journal Pages, and Daily Themes. Aside from these, there is almost no other structure imposed or paradigm mandated. That is the one thing I love most about this journal: it is incredibly open-ended. Everyone can apply it to their own themes in their own ways, to whatever suits them best. Here is a brief rundown of how I use mine — if for no other reason than as a reference to myself:

The Yearly Themes section is fairly self-explanatory: Here, I have written each yearly theme along with the overall intent of that theme and some ideal specific goals that I’d like to achieve.

The second section of the journal is for daily journalling. In here, each page is split into 4 blocks, with the third being much larger than the rest. These, in turn, are where I answer four questions every day:

  • Non-Zero Task?
    I have tried to follow the Non-Zero Days philosophy ever since it was introduced to me in late 2013, because I think it (mostly) is a great idea to maintain a good trend of self-improvement. In short, every day should have something, however small or minor, that pushes me toward one of my goals or helps me accomplish something. So, in my journal, every morning (or perhaps on the night before), I look through my todo list and make myself a very short list of tasks in the journal: 1-2 things that, as long as they get done, make my day a productive one in spite of whatever else may occur.
  • GG?
    (Short for “Goodness/Gratitude”, though inspired by the “good game” shorthand from video games.) Did something good happen to me or someone I care for? Am I especially grateful for a specific thing or person today? Did someone help me in a particular way that was extraordinarily generous of their own time?
  • Lesson Learned?
    As part of my theme of Intent, I want to really be a better scientist, and either through direct research, reading documentation, being told by a friend, or just doing some quick experiments myself (e.g., a particular piece of code, framework, or software tool), ensure that I dedicate at least a little bit of time each day to learning something. Most probably this will always be software- or code-related, as that is where my hobbies lie; but learning trivia about other topics can also be fascinating!
  • Time Spent?
    Yes, this is probably more “correctly” tracked directly through tools like Toggl and such; but I find that even though I have those installed and enabled, I haven’t really used them to the extent I should be. Jotting down estimates of both my predicted time spent on various tasks through the day as well as what I actually accomplished will help me track my time and use it more productively and purposefully.

The third section, Daily Themes, is arranged as a tabular checklist. For this, I label each column with the date (MM/DD) and each row with a task or ideal of one of my goals, including more outwardly-visible tasks such as as “socialize with friends” or “work on hobby project” and also health-related tasks and chores that I want to do more often. Then at the end of each day, I mark off in the provided circle how well I accomplished that task: empty if I did nothing for it, filled if I did something significant for it, and half-filled if I did something productive for it but really was not a major use of my time. For instance, for my “socialize with friends” task, I’ll keep it empty if I did not speak with friends at all that day, half-filled if I had a very brief or text-only conversation with them (i.e., checking in, saying hello, that sort of thing), and completely filled if I spent a significant chunk of time with friends, such as face-to-face through Discord and the like.

2021: The Year That Will Be

Of course, one of the greatest things about the Theme System is that it is specifically intended to be adaptable: general categories and ideas that have some specific ideal outcomes, with a goal of simply having a wonderful Christmas time 🎵 positive (or at least, non-negative) trend toward achieving those. This also means that it will change over time, and I suspect these themes (or their goals) will be more seasonal than yearly. But in either case, 2021 is looking to be very much an upward swing on all of these goals, so I will take a page from the Borg and simply adapt where needed.

Hopefully this brief explanation helps clarify for some how and why I love this Theme System Journal so much, and perhaps encourage others to do use it more also.

Happy Holidays, everyone! ๐Ÿ™‚

In Memoriam: Developer Shed Forums

June 30th, 2019 No comments

In late-2003, I was a high school junior loving every second of my AP Computer Science AB course. While researching something for homework one day, I found a neat little forum on the internet called Developer Shed where people helped each other to solve programming problems, talk about algorithms and problem-solving strategies, and generally just chew the proverbial fat in a mostly-friendly setting.

I was a fledgling hobbyist LAMP developer at the time — hey, it was a phase — and I enjoyed helping others through simple problems such as fixing logic issues, rudimentary database usage, and the like. In so doing, I found (as any novice programmer probably would) that by working through those problems, I was learning more about programming: both PHP and SQL specifically, but also generalities of debugging techniques, and how to think through problems more methodically. Yes, we had a lot of hands-on projects for the AP Comp Sci AB coursework; but this was yet another outlet for my code creativity. And more practice meant more programming perfection. I soon became an avid member there, averaging an hour or two and multiple posts daily for what would be the next several years.

The following April (2004), after a few months of posting, I was nominated into a moderator position for some of the forum sections that I actively visited — such as PHP Development and the Dev Shed Lounge (the off-topic forum). I eagerly accepted, of course. Being an active community moderator enabled me to directly act against many of the personae non gratae including trolls, spammers, and belligerent users; while also promoting the beneficial posts of more well-reputable users, and working with the rest of the moderation team to write needed FAQs and other such guidelines to keep the forums running smoothly.

In fact, it was this initial foray into community moderation that gave me the confidence I needed to properly fulfill my duties once I became a moderator of the Gentoo Linux forums the following December — a role I held for the nearly two years that I was an active Gentoo user.

My activity on the Dev Shed forums declined rapidly once the combination of full-time college, work, and extracurriculars started consuming most of my available time; but I still checked in on weekends and such for many years. Ownership of the forums changed hands a few times with no apparent significant impact; and my semi-regularity continued until about 5 years ago (?), when the original owner of Dev Shed sold it to Jim Boykin, CEO of Internet Marketing Ninjas.

With their new administrator team running the forums, many of the outstanding problems were resolved — such as creating more responsive templates — and we had very polite and quick feedback to ensure that the forums continued to run smoothly for a long while. They were incredibly supportive of our community, and especially of the moderator team whose efforts kept it running day-to-day. We even got a nice gift box from them that holiday season which included some t-shirts (two of which I still often wear to this day), a signed team photo, and an Amazon gift card. Cool!

Because of their responsiveness and general benevolence, I found myself on the forums a lot more over the past few years: not posting as frequently so much as just helping maintain everything: removing spam posts, banning troll users, etc. However, even this became an extremely-infrequent occurrence in recent months because my time would be so often better spent elsewhere: Dev Shed was pretty much the only decent programming-focused community back when I first signed up those many years ago; but that has long since been superseded by communities like first like OSnews and Slashdot, now Reddit and others.

And so, I found myself perusing Dev Shed maybe once or twice per month — a far cry from the near-daily I had formerly been. Because of my inactivity, I had been pondering retiring my moderator status for the past year or so; but something kept pulling me back. On one hand, it felt a bit unfair that I should stay a moderator for a community that I wasn’t as much directly a part of anymore; but on the other, I couldn’t just suddenly stop being such a significant part of this developer community that had itself been a significant part of my online life for over a decade.

So I persisted, and kept checking in very infrequently to keep up with site news, moderation queues, and some Lounge chat. But I never returned to posting much in any of the programming-specific forums. I just didn’t have the time or patience that I once had to write those would-be responses with the necessary due diligence.

Then, in late 2018, tragedy befell our once-thriving community. For whatever reason, the forums stopped being actively maintained: the administrators became far less responsive in fixing issues; many of our moderation team were online much less frequently, and people were generally not posting as much on the forums anymore. Rumor had it among some of the then-moderators that the administrative team was trying to rewrite a lot of the database and vBulletin backend stuff from scratch because the original owners had implemented a lot of fancy things as layers of kludges — a software house of cards, so to speak. But it seems that was never quite accomplished.

…Which brings us to the present. This past week, the entireties of SEOChat and Dev Shed forums were effectively scrapped after months of effort by Brett Tabke (from Webmaster World, also owned by Internet Marketing Ninjas) to try to modernize them; but unfortunately there were simply too many flaws in the old systems to reasonably fix. I do wish Tabke could have kept the old archive of posts if for no other reason than as historical reference; but I very much appreciate their months of effort to keep that archive, as futile as they seem to have been.

And so it is with a simple goodbye that I leave my Dev Shed past behind. That said, I cannot bid it adieu without mentioning several of the users there whom I befriended during my time as a moderator, and who helped make my stay in that community a pleasant one. I know that I am certainly forgetting many so I apologise that this list must necessarily be incomplete, but the handful that first spring to mind are:

  • SimonGreenill
  • ChiefWiggums1982
  • Sepodati
  • Scorpions4ever
  • B-Con
  • Nilpo

Perhaps our paths online will cross again; but until then, goodbye… Hmm, it seems odd that a short “goodbye” should suffice for something that was a part of my online life for such a long time (15+ years); but so be it.

So long, Dev Shed, and thanks for all the fish.

(Also, yes I will try to post more here; apologies for the long bout of inactivity.)

Happy Equestrian New Year (And: Thank You, Lauren Faust & MLP:FiM Team)

October 10th, 2012 No comments

Dear Lauren Faust,

Two years ago today aired the series premiere of this show you created: a show that would forever unite millions of fans – both men and women, adults and children alike, myself included – and change their lives for the better. From the inspirational characters to the wonderful artistry, from its excellent musical numbers (thanks Daniel Ingram) to the brilliant voice acting work all around, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has touched the hearts of so many, so quickly. And I your fan, cannot thank you enough.

To be honest, if two years ago you’d have told me I’d today be a fan of My Little Pony, I’d probably have laughed and made some snide, sarcastic retort. But since then, these colorful and playful bunch of magic ponies have stolen this geek’s heart.

I must admit feel a bit like Twilight Sparkle in the “Winter Wrap Up” episode: I can’t draw or do anything artistic at all; I am not imaginative enough to make fanfiction; and I won’t even dare to attempt a Pony Music Video or any such feat, since it would probably just be a waste of bandwidth. So how do I be a productive brony? I hope in lieu of anything fancy or creative, these words will suffice to demonstrate some iota of that gratitude.

In closing: Thank you, Lauren Faust. And thank you to the wonderful team of artists, voice actors, musicians, and other staff behind My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It’s been an absolutely fantastic first two seasons, and I eagerly await many more. (Oh, lest I forget, and thank you to all the creative fans who make the wait pass by with amazing art, videos, stories, and other media!)

If you would please, a brohoof!

(Pinkie Pie brohoof)

Aleedye’s Brohoof by ~MacchiatoJolt on DeviantArt (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Peter Gordon

Cherry-Picking With Git, For Fun And For Profit

February 23rd, 2012 3 comments

(This is more as a reminder to myself in the future, rather than a full-fledged posting.)

As I learn more about Git and how we use it in Fedora packaging, I keep discovering cool new things about it that I love. One particular aspect that I’m quickly growing to adore is the feature to cherry-pick between commits in related branches. Suppose I’m currently working on the master branch of a package which is kept in sync with f16 and f17 branches.

Now, a new version comes up or I make a patch to fix a bug. After committing the changes to master, I can easily copy those commits to the release branches with a simple cherry-pick operation:

$ fedpkg switch-branch f17
$ git cherry-pick master

This copies the most recent commit from the master branch into the current one. (See the Git documentation for more information on specifying commit IDs.) Compare this to CVS, where we had to manually diff the devel/ branch directory and apply that to each branch by hand…it’s so much nicer with Git. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then it’s a simple matter to push the changes to the Fedora repository and run builds for them through Koji, by running fedpkg push and fedpkg build in each branch. Sweet!

Also, the fullscreen mode of WordPress’ new post editor is fantastic – I owe someone a beverage for that.

Now to get some sleep, so I can finish this Algorithm Analysis project tomorrow. Ta for now!

Categories: Fedora Tags: , , ,

Bugzilla Spam, Ahoy!

August 2nd, 2011 No comments

In an effort to organize my Fedora bug squashing, I’ve been going through all the bugs assigned or CC-ed to me on Fedora’s Bugzilla. The first thing I’ve done is to remove myself from the CC and Assignee of many bugs whose packages I no longer maintain or have interest in. Unfortunately, if you’re on these bugs CC-ed or otherwise, you’re about to get an influx of 200+ automated email notifications from bugzilla about these changes. My apologies! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Silence is NOT Golden!

October 13th, 2010 No comments

It’s been a long long while (6+ months! Eep.); but to quote the great Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet!” – and neither is this blog.

So, what has this geek been up to recently? On the one hand, my search for a decent [part-time] job is…well, it’s still ongoing. On the other, I’ve been very busy with classwork, family obligations, and other real life duties.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on updates to several of my packages in addition to new goodies (such as the successor to the GNOME Music Applet, Panflute). I apologize for the rather lengthy delays in these! But, I should be able to get to all of them sometime within the next several days or so. (Git still puzzles me slightly, so please bare with me as I slowly resume my packaging duties.) And lastly, I would like to shout a huge THANK YOU to all those who have helped triage and maintain my packages during my brief hiatus. Now, to finish this Deluge update…

ThinkPad T500: Initial Fedora Report – Marvelous!

September 14th, 2009 3 comments

Well, after receiving my ThinkPad T500, I set about tweaking the pre-installed Windows Vista, and spent most of the weekend attempting to get it dual-booting Vista and Fedora nicely. For better or worse, neither Fedora’s GRUB nor Windows’ BCD bootloader would accept booting the other OS properly. I came to realize that I hadn’t used or needed to use Windows in over 5 years (even the server at work is CentOS), so It’s highly unlikely that I will need it in the foreseeable future. Just in case though, I can always run it in a VM. So, after burning the Product Recovery Discs, I wiped it all and installed Fedora on this wonderful machine. ๐Ÿ™‚

I configured it with 4 partitions:

  1. /boot (about 500 MB)
  2. Swap (about 5 GB)
  3. / (FS root, about 35 GB)
  4. /home (the remaining ~210 GB)

As far as the hardware goes, everything appears to work out of the (quite literal) box. The processor’s throttling is automatically handled by cpuspeed and ACPI. The LCD was automatically detected at the appropriate resolution (WSXGA+, 1680×1050) and DPI (129), and graphics (integrated Intel GMA X4500HD) work very well – 3D, Compiz, and everything. Virtualization extensions (so-called “VT”) were disabled in the BIOS by default for whatever reason, but enabling them took only a few seconds and KVM works wonderfully (running an Ubuntu 9.04 virtual machine for a Linux class).

The TrackPoint(tm) and TouchPad both work splendidly, although the TrackPoint does take a lot of practice to get comfortable with. I’m tempted to disable the touchpad in the BIOS, since I don’t actually use it for pointing (and I often erroneously swipe it with my palm while using the so-called “nipple mouse” of the TrackPoint); but I do use it for the scrolling, so I’ve not yet found a happy medium. Suggestions appreciated.

The hard disk (Western Digital WDC WD2500BEVS-0) and DVD burner drive (HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-U20N) are surprisingly speedy. I’ve already burned two copies of the Fedora 11 LiveCD and several data discs (backups) with no problems. The Bluetooth works well, and I can easily send and receive files to and from my phone through the included Bluetooth stack. The wifiย  (Intel WiFi Link 5300 [AGN]) works beautifully with the included iwlagn driver, enabled by default. Also, NetworkManager makes connectivity trivial. (Thanks, devs!)

The firewire and PC Card slot also seem to work – they are autodetected and drivers loaded. However, as I have no firewire- or PC Card-based devices, I cannot verify their functionality.

I have come to quickly love the GNOME Power Manager stack. According to it, the battery on a full charge should last me about 5 hours. It keeps track of how much charge the battery has, how quickly I’m consuming or charging it depending on if I am plugged into AC power, etc. It even shows me a graph of my recent power history! Wonderful little tool. With the help of Intel’s fantastic PowerTOP utility, I’ve increased that computed estimate to nearly 6 hours. (!)

With regards to multimedia, things worked beautifully without me even trying. The built-in webcam works perfectly with Cheese, and the built-in sound works for both playback (surprisingly loud at maximum volume!) and recording (not fantastic quality, but it’s very good at eliminating surrounding static and other noises). I can’t wait to try video-calling someone with the recent Empathy enhancements!

All of the hotkeys – brightness-switching, volume control, playback/navigation, etc.) work as expected, and ACPI (with GNOME Power Manager) even automatically suspends when I close the lid – wonderful!

I’ve also noticed that the machine stays colder in Fedora than it ever did while running the preinstalled Windows. Maybe this is only subjective though, as I never checked the actual temperatures in Windows. Or perhaps Linux/Fedora is better at staying in deeper C-states for longer intervals. In either case, I can work with it directly on my lap quite comfortably.

One of the main reasons I decided upon the T-series instead of a similar R-series laptop was weight. Even with the battery installed, it is only about 5.5 pounds. (That’s about 2.5 kilograms for the rest of the world who use a less-insane system of measurements.) This is quite comfortable to carry with me around school and work without tiring my shoulder.

The only thing which I’ve been unable to test, aside from the firewire and PC card slots, is the dual-screen capability. According to the included manual, it should be capable of using the DisplayPort interface to attach a secondary screen (such as a projector) and automatically resize appropriately, with [Fn]+[Spacebar]. I suppose that if this does not yet already Just Work(tm), it will be fixed by the time I need to worry about actually using it though.

Overall, I love this laptop, and am extremely happy with my purchase decision. In fact, the only qualm I have with this wonderful computer is that it’s not yet decorated! Oh great lazyweb, doe anyone know where I can get stickers for GNOME, Fedora, Linux/Tux, et al., to adorn it with? ๐Ÿ˜€

Also: A huge THANK YOU to all of the developers who helped make my first Linux-on-a-laptop experience an absolutely wonderful one. I love it when things work so simply and effectively!

Leonidas: On the Brink of Release

June 9th, 2009 2 comments

With Fedora 11 (“Leonidas”) released earlier today and Rawhide looking to the future, I find myself instead looking back at what has made Leonidas such an excellent release.

With over 50 new features in this release (more than any previous release, I’ve been told!), it would seem logical that this staggering amount of new improvements would leave us with many majors bugs and issues yet to resolved – the more features we add, the less manpower/resources we can expend on each individually, right?

Wrong. With so many test days and an amazing Quality Assurance team, we’ve hammered, smashed, pounded, banged, and kicked this release into a uniquely rich and stable Fedora experience.

One of my favorite features of this release is Presto. Though not enabled by default, Presto allows users to use so-called DeltaRPMs to update the packages installed on their system. That is, instead of downloading the whole new updated packages, only the changes between the installed version and the update need be downloaded. Especially for large packages (such as some game data and or those who are on a slower or pay-per-usage internet connection, this can be a very hefty savings both in time and cost. I used it immediately after installed Leonidas, and it saved me quite a bit on the initial updating:

Size of all updates downloaded from Presto-enabled repositories: 14M
Size of updates that would have been downloaded if Presto wasn't enabled: 128M
This is a savings of 89 percent

Win! The DRI2/KMS support has also been updated heavily and now works out of the proverbial box, at least for a large portion of Intel and AMD/ATi hardware. (This allows a proper composited desktop with 3-D and all. By default. VERY awesome.)

Another excellent feature is that the installation now defaults to using the Ext4 filesystem where applicable. I must admit, I was a bit afraid of actively using this when I was first reading about it, due to all of the reports of data corruption people have experienced; but it seems those issues are long-since fixed, as I’d been using Ext4 for my root partition since Fedora 10. With Leonidas, I took the plunge and upgraded my /home partition (via Anaconda) from Ext3 to Ext4, and have yet to notice a problem. (For those wishing to do similar – and even for those not – I would still highly recommend keeping proper backups Just In CaseTM)

Finally, while I could pinpoint each and every feature and how I feel it’s improved Fedora, suffice it to say that I don’t have adequate time to type out such a long rave. However, as much as these individual features improve Fedora on their own, it is their conglomeration which impacts us the most – the way things are so well-integrated and work properly “out of the box” (so to speak), the way that we as a community of many actively support all of this so well, the way we as a community so diverse handle bugs and packaging, the beautiful artwork and the amazing work of the Release Engineering team to distribute this blend of creativity so readily.

I’d like to rehash those last few points: It’s the wonderful combination of the efforts of you countless contributors and users which makes Fedora so great. Thank you all. Keep up the impressive work. I can’t wait for what’s to come in Fedora 12+!

Epiphany & WebKitGTK+: And so it begins…

May 31st, 2009 1 comment

I just noticed that a few hours ago, Matthias Clasen committed Epiphany 2.27.2 to Fedora’s CVS and in the process switched the build to using WebKitGTK+. instead of Gecko/XULrunner. This means that, once the switch is flipped for rawhide to start composing from the F-12 tree, Epiphany will be using WebKitGTK+ by default. Epic win. Many thanks, Matthias – you’re also added to my ever-growing “I owe drinks to these people” list. ๐Ÿ™‚

Seeing is Believing.

January 27th, 2009 No comments

For the longest time, the notify bubbles from various applications (such as Evolution’s new-mail and Rhythmbox’s song-change notices) have always been a simple white background with a blue or red (or other color, for various reasons) stripe across the left. When I turned on my desktop this evening and checked my email through Evolution, I noticed that these simple and functional-but-not-very-pretty bubbles had become actual bubbles! I noticed that this was not specific to just Evolution: Rhythmbox had its new song notifications changed similarly (cropped screenshot shown below), and the PackageKit update notice was the same style (among others). Someone has added a nice gradient of the tooltip color to it, and given it a nice kick of aesthetics. I love it! Major thanks to whoever implemented this!

Cool new notification bubbles!

Cool new notification bubbles!

Also, I just noticed tonight that Empathy has recently acquired some auto-import functionality for migrating accounts from Pidgin. It’s still a bit in its infancy (only login details at the moment, for example; no conversation logs or other fancy stuff), but it is an excellent start! Many thanks to Xavier and the rest of the Empathy/Telepathy developers for continuing to make things that much nicer!

Automatically importing Pidgin account login details - Epic Win!

Automatically importing Pidgin account login details - epic win!

So to whom do I owe the drinks this time? ๐Ÿ™‚