Ubuntu is 10

I saw “Happy 10th Birthday, Ubuntu” go by in my feed today…

Today is the 10th anniversary of Ubuntu‘s first release.  This is slightly nostalgic as I was employed by them at the time.  I was actually the very first employee of MRS Virtual Development (the legal name of the entity at the time), Robert Collins (mentioned in the above-linked article) being the second. The first two things Mark wanted in his company were a good bug tracker and a good source control system.  My involvement with Mozilla as a volunteer at the time is actually how I came to be involved with it, as I’d been heavily involved with the Bugzilla bug tracking system at that point. Robert had been heavily involved with GNU Arch, an up-and-coming source code management system which was eventually forked by Canonical to become Bazaar.

The biggest thing I remember about my time working for Canonical (as the corporate entity eventually became known) was that I spent 2 weeks at a time in London approximately every 2 months.  I spent almost a quarter of that year in London.  This, of course, was pretty hard on me since it was hard being away from my family so much.

Although I thought the Ubuntu OS was a fantastic idea, and loved the way it was being built (and I still use it to this day on most of my computers), in the end, I didn’t really fit in well with the other people working on it.  Almost everyone else Mark had hired to work on it came from a Debian background, which I had had almost zero involvement with prior to this experience, and the culture was very different from anything I’d ever dealt with before.  I much preferred the culture among the volunteer community at Mozilla.  Fortunately, Firefox was released about 3 weeks later, and the Mozilla Foundation suddenly had money as a result.  I left Canonical and was hired by Mozilla the day before Firefox 1.0 released, and I am still at Mozilla today.  This means I will also be celebrating my 10th anniversary working at Mozilla in just a few weeks.

The Rainbow Bridge

Reebock: May 1994 - May 26, 2011 (17 years)

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.

Author Unknown

Seven Things

So yeah, I got tagged for this by both Eric Shepherd and Sean Alamares.

Ground rules:
1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

On to the seven things you may or may not have known about me:

1. I grew up as the son of a United Methodist pastor.  So yeah, that makes me a PK.  Somehow I managed to avoid falling into either stereotype of that situation (I knew several people who fit one or the other of them though).  United Methodist pastors typically get moved around between churches every few years.  Most of the time, my dad managed to stay put longer than most, so I only ever moved twice with my family before moving out on my own, once in the middle of Kindergarden, and the other time in the middle of 8th grade.  I would never recommend to anyone ever to move their kids in the middle of a school year.  Just don’t.  But I survived. 🙂

2. With the exception of two exchange programs that I participated in, I’ve never lived outside of the state of Michigan.  It’s a great place to live, when the economy doesn’t suck.  Michigan is currently the only state in the U.S. with a two-digit unemployment rate (10.6% for December 2008).  We can thank the failing auto industry for that.  I count myself very fortunate right now that I work for a company that’s still doing well despite the recession.

3. One of the above-mentioned exchange programs was a pastoral exchange when I was 12 years old.  My dad traded churches (and parsonages) with a pastor in Fleetwood, Lancashire, in the UK, for 6 weeks. We went and lived in his house, and he came and lived in ours. It was a pretty fun experience, and the first (and last) time I’ve ever been to a salt water beach.  The tide pools and miles of sand when the tide was out were quite fascinating.

4. The other of the above-mentioned exchange programs was a student exchange just after I graduated from high school.  I went and stayed with a host family in Concepción, Chile, for 2 months.  Yes, that was also on the ocean.  No, I never went to the beach while I was there.  It was the middle of the winter and too cold. 🙂  I had a tremendous amount of fun while I was there, and I didn’t want to come back.  The exchange organization that I had gone through for the exchange also had 6-month and 1-year programs in addition to the 2-month program, and I almost managed to get it extended to 6 months.  The only thing that stopped it from happening is my parents had already paid my tuition for the fall semester at college.  I was tremendously shy as a kid, and never had very many friends, mostly because I was too shy to make them.  I wholeheartedly credit this trip with bringing me out of my shell. 🙂

5. I met my wife while hiding in a dormitory basement with 80 other people during a tornado warning 3 weeks into that fall semester my freshman year at college.  I guess it’s a good thing I did come back from Chile when I did. 😉  It was about a year later before we were seriously dating though, and several months after that before we decided to get married.  We held off until after she graduated to get married.  A few months from now we’ll have been married for 15 years, and I love her now more than ever.  We have 2 children, who are now in 1st and 4th grades, and are absolute joys to be parents of… most of the time. 🙂

6. I never graduated from college.  I was working toward a Computer Science degree, and the computer area at Adrian College was pretty much falling apart around my Junior year, for both a lack of qualified faculty and limited number of participating students.  All of the computer classes there were considered part of the Math department at the time.  This wasn’t exactly a good fit.  They had three professors there who actually knew what they were doing with computers.  One of them was the chairman of the Political Science department (and thus only taught one or two computer classes).  One of them was the chairman of the Chemistry department (and thus only taught one or two computer classes).  The third was actually full time in the computer department, but was a native of India, and didn’t have a very good command of the English language, so you couldn’t understand anything he lectured about.  The remaining professors were all math teachers, and didn’t really understand computers well.  I understand that they split computers off to its own department and had a huge push on modernizing it with equipment and qualified faculty not long after I left, but it was already too late for me.  Also adding to the mix, I had gone in with a friend on an off-campus apartment, hoping to get cheaper housing.  My roommate ended up backing out on it after the lease had been signed, so I got stuck with the apartment by myself (which was no longer cheaper as a result).  This meant I had to go get a real job (rather than just a student job on campus) to pay for the rent, and homework of course suffered, and eventually there was no point in continuing school.  After we got married, Lori moved into that apartment with me.  But as strange as it seems, that lowly job working in the hardware deparment at the local Meijer store did actually lead to a career working with computers.  It took seven years to get there, working a little way up and down the chain within Meijer, but it did.  There’s enough meat there for a whole other blog post (or you can just go read my bio on the About page linked at the top, most of it’s in there 🙂 )

7. I’m a huge fan of Asian media, mostly anime.  My taste is mostly in high school dramas, fantasy, scifi, magical girls, and slice-of-life stuff.  I tend to avoid mecha (which is what most people think of when they think of anime for some reason) and Naruto-style stuff.  My current favorites (minus a few) are listed over on the right on my blog.  You can find more (and some of the older stuff) if you dig around in the Anime category on my blog.  The Anime industry is in the middle of a huge upheaval right now, with many of the publishers starting to catch on to online distribution.  Personally I think it’s a great time to be a fan…  having more and more places to go to get good shows right from the publishers.

Tag, you’re it!

Actually, after looking around a little, I can’t find anyone with a blog who hasn’t already been tagged for this, so I guess it’s time to let it die.  It tends to get out-of-hand if you let it grow loosely anyway.  I’ve seen this mème going around Facebook listing both 16 and 25 as the number of things and people to list.  Consider yourself fortunate that the Mozilla community managed to keep it at 7. 🙂

Serving AppleShare from RHEL5 with Netatalk 2.0.3

So I was recently trying to set up a fileshare in one of our offices and trying to get it visible to the filesharing stuff in Mac OS X, since several people in the office have Mac laptops.  The original thought (since it’s supposedly better-supported on Linux) was to set up Samba, but our authentication in the office is all LDAP based, and I gave up trying to get Samba to work with our LDAP server after a few days.  Samba seems to want complete control over your LDAP server, and won’t deal with a read-only one that just happens to have all the Samba auth info in it already.  This seems wrong, and I’m sure there’s a way to do it, but I sure couldn’t find any documentation to tell me how.

So then I thought maybe I’d try Netatalk.  None of the usual packaging repos seemed to carry a netatalk RPM, but I did find one for Netatalk 2.0.3 in Fedora 8.  I took the SRPM from that and rebuilt it on my RHEL5 server.  Then I went about trying to configure it.  Turns out the documentation for Netatalk SUCKS ROCKS.  Everything I could find was written in 1998 and last touched in 2002 or so, and there’s been several new versions of Netatalk since then.  When all was said and done, the configuration part turned out to be really easy, you just couldn’t figure it out from the docs.

I did find a tutorial for setting up Netatalk for TimeMachine on Ubuntu, which turned out to be incredibly helpful.  So my main reason for blogging about this is to help that tutorial get some more pagerank, since it wasn’t nearly high enough in the search results on Google. 🙂

So without further ado, here’s the Netatalk How-to for Ubuntu that I found.

What American accent do I use?

What American accent do you have?

Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak “Standard English straight out of the dictionary” but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like “Are you from Wisconsin?” or “Are you from Chicago?” Chances are you call carbonated drinks “pop.”

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

What I’m watching these days

I’ve been watching a fair bit of anime the last year or so, and people always seem surprised to find out (and I, likewise, have been surprised to find out which friends of mine have already been watching a lot of it as well).

Maybe I’ve been poisoned by the mainstream TV networks in the US, and admittedly, I don’t get out much beyond what’s on TV, but the cartoons we have in the US just don’t seem hold a candle to the stuff they’re putting out over in Japan (and this includes most of the imports from Japan that have made it to the US, which the US networks that are carrying them have usually done a good job of butchering up either the plot lines or the music, or otherwise making unnecessary changes to “westernize” them). There are many Japanese shows (even the stuff aimed at kids) which impress me with the depth of the characters and the detail they include in the stories. You just have to live with reading subtitles, unless you know Japanese.

One of the most-detailed and heart-tugging of these (that I’ve seen) is the original Futari wa Pretty Cure series, and its followup series Pretty Cure Max Heart. This show is aimed at kids, and it’s definitely a kids’ show, but even with that in mind, we get to explore the entire community that the main characters live in. The other students in their class at school actually exist, and aren’t just there to fill the extra seats in the classroom. We get to hear almost every student’s name at some point in the series. A large number of them have important roles in at least one or two episodes. The main characters have a family life outside of school, and we learn a great deal about their siblings, parents, and grandparents. And every episode is a heart-tugging demonstration of learning to always trust in each other and never give up, a moral that they almost go overboard with, but you can’t help loving it anyway. Yeah, it’s magical girl genre, and they fight bad guys, but out of each 25 minute episode, they usually spend about 5 or 10 minutes on fighting bad guys, and the rest of the show is all about their relationships. I’ve never seen anything like it broadcast in the US.

Lots of people when they hear “anime” automatically think of “mecha”. Transformers came out of that genre after all, as did Voltron, and the various Gundam stuff (and although it’s not exactly anime, you can’t leave out the Power Rangers and their Zords). The Japanese seem to love their giant robots. 🙂 But there’s a lot more to anime than giant robots, and I’m not that much into the robot stuff, personally. My watch list tends to have more magical girl and drama type stuff in it.

Stuff I’m currently watching:

  • Chocotto Sister (drama/romance)
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (mystery/suspense/thriller)
  • Lucky Star (high school comedy)
  • Nanoha StrikerS (scifi/magical girl)
  • Ojamajo Doremi Sharp (comedy/magical girl)
  • Potemayo (comedy)
  • Powerpuff Girls Z (magical girl)
  • Pretty Cure Max Heart (magical girl)
  • Pretty Cure Splash Star (magical girl)
  • School Days (high school drama/romance)
  • Sky Girls (mecha/drama)
  • Sugar Sugar Rune (magical girl/fantasy/drama)
  • Umisho (high school drama/comedy)
  • Yes! Pretty Cure 5 (magical girl)

Other stuff I’ve watched in the past:

  • Fairy Musketeer Akazukin (fantasy/adventure)
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure (magical girl)
  • Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight (high school drama)
  • Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (scifi/high school drama)
  • Nanoha (magical girl)
  • Nanoha A’s (magical girl/scifi)
  • Ojamajo Doremi (magical girl)
  • Ojamajo Doremi Naisho (magical girl)
  • Rocket Girls (scifi/adventure)
  • Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko (scifi/adventure)
  • Tokemeki Memorial (high school drama/romance)
  • Venus Versus Virus (scifi/thriller)

And yes, I have actually bought DVDs with English dubs. This is fantastic and entertaining art, and well worth supporting the artists and producers when given the opportunity, and a good way to encourage them to continue to allow worldwide distribution of the subtitled versions (it’s the best form of advertising after all).

So hopefully that’s a little insight into my artistic likes these days.

Vacation, life, hard drives, and basements

So two weeks ago I had scheduled to take a week of vacation from work. My parents’ 40th wedding anniversary was coming up, and my sister and I had planned an open house for almost everyone they knew to come and party that first weekend of the vacation. My parents were then going to take my kids with them up north to spend a week at their cottage on Secord Lake. Swimming, fishing, pontoon rides on the river, all that fun stuff. While we were kidless, my wife and I were going to work on cleaning out all the junk in our basement in preparation for another round at our seemingly never-ending quest to get it remodeled.

Well, the night of the party (but after the guests were long gone), my mom gets a phone call that her father had passed away. We’d kind of been expecting it, as he’d been in and out of the hospital a lot recently, and had been in the hospital and deteriorating for the previous week. So the kids came home with us instead of going up north, while my parents went down to Ohio to be with my grandmother the following day. I made arrangements with my boss to extend my vacation by a few days to buy more time for the original basement cleanup plan.

While at home, the computer in the family room is acting weird (won’t launch one of the games, hanging at weird times, etc). It just felt wrong to me, and stupid me, I rebooted the computer. I was then greeted with the little icon that indicates that it can’t find a disk to boot from. Oops. I managed to mount the disk over Firewire from another computer though, and started rsyncing the contents of the user home directories to the fileserver in the basement. It did not manage to grab everything though, and we lost a lot (the kids bookmarks, my wife’s email, 4 or 5 months’ worth of digital photos). I know, backups. I’d always intended to, and never got around to setting it up. Fortunately for the photos most of them got uploaded to Shutterfly, so that wasn’t a total loss. As of this writing, I now have an automated daily rsync of the /Users directory to the big fileserver downstairs.

But there wasn’t much time to deal with the computer, that would have to come later. Tuesday meant heading to Ohio ourselves for my grandfather’s funeral. The funeral and the family luncheon were quite nice. There were a lot of family there that I hadn’t seen in many years. After the funeral, my parents took the kids, finally off to their trip up north. My grandmother also went with them. Spending a week with the great grandkids on a river/lake system with lots of fun stuff to do… what a great stress relief for her after all that happened the previous several weeks.

As the kids headed up north, Lori and I headed back home, in theory to finally work on cleaning out the basement. But now we’re back to that eMac with the dead hard drive. I made a quick trip to the local Circuit City (I don’t like them either, but they had the best locally-available deal and I was in a hurry) and picked up a new hard drive, 4 times the size of the one it was replacing. Now came the fun part of actually replacing it. The eMac (like many modern Apple products) was not designed with hard drive replacement in mind. Just getting to the hard drive required an almost complete disassembly of the eMac, complete with discharging the CRT to make it safe to work with so I wouldn’t get a 10,000 volt shock touching the wrong part, since the hard drive is right underneath the bare CRT tube. The entire process of disassembly and reassembly took most of a day, between research to make sure I could do it without killing myself and quick trips to the store for required tools I was missing. I then formatted the new drive and spent the next day or two installing Mac OS X 10.4.6 (that’s the install DVD I had), upgrading it to 10.4.10, and reinstalling all the software we use.

Now we’re up through Monday of that vacation that now ends Wednesday. Suffice it to say that I did get a little bit of cleaning done in the basement. But it was nowhere near the goal, and nowhere near being able to allow contractors to touch the place, so I think I’ll be finding myself requesting additional vacation time from work in the near future as soon as I get caught up there again.

Vacation and work travel

So this last week I’ve been on vacation, but just hanging out at home hoping to catch up on some things.  One of the projects I’ve been working on this week is trying to write a driver for lirc to use a USB-attached IR receiver on Mac OS X.  One of my MythTV boxes is running on Mac OS X, and it’s annoying to have the little white Apple remote be the only one that works on it (it’s a nice simple remote, but there’s just not enough buttons on it to be useful for a full entertainment center).  I’ve been hoping to get that driver working before I left so my wife could use a real remote while I’m gone.  Not quite there yet, not much time left.  I made major progress on it this afternoon though while the kids were watching the new movies they got in their Easter baskets.

Tomorrow afternoon (Monday) I leave to head out to Mountain View for our quarterly all-hands meeting at Mozilla.  The following week I’ll be attending an Asterisk training program put on by Digium in San Jose (teach me everything I need to know to run the PBX system at Mozilla), so I’ll be away from home for two weeks.  It’s always fun visiting Mozilla, but it’s not going to be fun being away from the family for that long.

MythTV rocks

I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up a MythTV box on and off for a while, and with family members complaining about the difficulties of getting a VCR programmed for the correct time, the allure of a DVR where you could just point it at a show in the program schedule and say “record this” was getting high.  Just before Christmas, I ran across a new startup company selling preconfigured dual-tuner Home Theater PC boxes with Ubuntu and MythTV preinstalled on them, and for a pretty decent price, so I wound up purchasing a Hannibal Duece+ from them.  I got the machine a couple weeks ago, and have had a lot of fun fine-tuning it.  Having a web interface on the box to point your browser at it and view the program schedule and schedule recordings is a kick, too.  The machines are still a little rough around the edges with the initial configuration, but TVEase is showing a lot of promise, with an active forum and a definite open source attitude about how to configure the machines for new customers.  The only current drawback is the deathgrip the cable industry has over the digital channels – trying to get off-the-shelf hardware that supports CableCARD® is a bit of a joke currently.  If you’re in the market for a DVR, and aren’t married to all the high-numbered channels, I’d definitely recommend picking up one of these things.