Sunday, January 17, 2010

The deep end of the pool....

I'm in Wellington, New Zealand to speak at LCA on Open Source for Newbies with my ever-awesome Google colleague, Leslie Hawthorn. Wellington is terrific; very much like San Francisco being right on a large, very protected bay which forms an expansive natural harbor backed by steep hills. Misty, cool, with great food, coffee and wine, and casually dressed and friendly locals; I feel very much as home. (But I will be very disappointed if I don't see even one Blue Penguin, though I can pass on seeing a Weta up close and personal...)

But. I'm trying something new. needs to be moved to a new server and and generally updated to the latest version of Drupal. Emma Jane Hogbin put out a call for volunteers to come and get it done, so I decided that it would be interesting to come and offer up my utter ignorance to the effort, figuring I might learn something. Hence the "deep end of the pool" title....

It seems certain that I'm going to learn something, if "only" how much fun it is to sit around a conference table with a bunch of Drupal women (and men). Actually, it's a crash course in how a group decides how to migrate and upgrade a website. So far, I'm no help at all, but I am learning something, the beer is almost as good as the company (I'm falling in love with New Zealand :-) and I'm hoping to be useful doing QA later on. I hope so anyway. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A modest proposal...

Well, not really so modest. ;-)

Actually, I want to record what I think is a darn good idea I came up with at FooCamp in late August in a session with Andrew McLaughlin, deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration. Andrew was asking a small group of interested attendees for ideas on how to quickly disseminate time sensitive information about flu preparedness to ALL Americans - not just those people who are online. My suggestion: work with our nations retailers: food, drug and warehouse, to use their checkout couponing systems to spread the word.

Most merchants use computerized registers, and many retailers - especially large ones - print out coupons on your receipt based on what you've just purchased. For example, if you buy diapers you get a coupon for baby wipes. If you buy beer and hot dogs you get a coupon for BBQ charcoal and chips. Not every retailer gives you coupons; some print out their return policy, or info on an upcoming sales instead of a coupon, but the point is that their registers can print messages on each receipt.

This method won't reach everyone. People who live in areas not served by retail chains, most notably the low income inner city, and the far rural west and midwest will likely be missed. Some fill-in with broasdcast media, coupled maybe even direct mail will be needed to reach *everyone*, but using this medium should get relevant information into the hands of the vast majority of Americans within a week.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

FooCamp and Twitter

Okay. I've become a tweeter. See #catallman. FooCamp is amazing!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Transparency Camp West 2009 is over. Not quite as many people as we had hoped, but exactly the number we predicted, and a mostly productive group.

It's an interesting puzzle of how to manage sign-ups. In this case and other, we and whomever we are hosting want our event to be open to the universe of interested people, so we make the event free, but since our numbers need to be limited in order to have a productive meeting, we limit registration. People sign up, either because they might come or to show support for the organization we're hosting, or for the topic, but they don't attend, taking seats away from people who actually would attend.

One idea, suggested by one of the terrific crew at the Sunlight Foundation, is to charge a $20 "reservation donation", and refund it at the door. Anyone who doesn't show has just made a donation to the org - or we mail them a $20. Thoughts? Evil or practical?

I'd also love to find a way to prevent the inevitable attendance by relentless self promoters who come only to hunt for people to hire them, sometimes for completely off topic work. And the mercifully infrequent people with "issues". Ever been to an open mike meeting of any San Francisco or Berkeley political body? Yup - like that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Greetings from Berlin

I'm in Berlin to give a talk at LinuxTag 2009. I've been looking forward to returning to Berlin after my talk at LinuxTag last year, so I've given myself a Saturday to be a tourist here. What follows in the next couple of posts is a series of my observations. (And yes, I think the talk went ok. I'm never terribly confident - and I hate the way my voice gets squeaky when I nervous (Note to self; remember to breath) - but 6+ people came up to me after to ask questions or to simply thank me for the talk and to tell me they enjoyed it, so I'm cautiously optimistic that I didn't completely suck.)

At least half the crows I see are are a kind we don't have in the US, the Hooded Crow. It's always pleasantly disconcerting to see something you know like the back of your hand that is, in fact, something that's new to you. It's one of my favorite things about traveling.

And there are bunnies in the parks :)

It's my last night in Berlin and I've just come from "Bandy Brooks": a small Berlin chain of ice cream stores. They told me as I bought a cone that the "backstory" for the chain is that it was American, like Hagen Daz pretends to be Dutch but is really made in New Jersey - but it wasn't until I was sitting outside, enjoying the mild evening and the foot traffic streaming by that I read the signage more closely and discovered that they aren't pretending to be American, they are pretending to be from "Confederate America", aka our southern states that seceded from the United States over slavery (and other things) resulting in the American Civil War. I think I just bought ice cream made for wanna-be slave owners. In Germany. Call me PC but I am creeped out. I know I should think, "Gone with the Wind", or "Colorful history of ardent support for states rights", but this was after one of my cab drivers went on and on in mercifully obscure English about how "Jews have all money, very rich!" feh I'm going to pack and go to bed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My first article is live!

I was asked by Rikki Kite, Associate Publisher of Linux Pro Magazine to contribute to the June 2009 "Women in Open Source" issue of Open Source Business Resource. As weird as it feels to self-promote - heck - I'm jazzed! :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ok, so I was a *little* cranky when I wrote my last post. SIGCSE and the FOSS in Education workshop that preceded it were both informative and interesting events.

Greg Stein wrote a most interesting post on OS and the motivations of contributers - check it out.