Tag Archives: general

In BGA Again

I’m back in the BlueGrass airport. I think I might start taking this personally. Every flight I’ve been on in the last 6 months has been delayed. My flight was supposed to take off an hour ago, and the plane hasn’t even arrived yet. We have confirmation that it’s off the ground in Atlanta, and on the way. So it’s anywhere from 0 – 90 minutes away.

I’m on the way to Atlanta for the planning meeting for ApacheCon. We have about 250 submitted talks, and we need to shoe-horn those into the available 60-or-so slots. With those kinds of numbers, we’re going to have to be very brutal and throw out a lot of good talks. But I get to hang out with a number of fascinating people, so it should be fun anyways.

Writing, again

I’m writing again. This is good, but it’s been pretty hard to get started.

I’m writing two different things. One of which, I suppose I shouldn’t tell you about, since it could hurt the sales of a book that I already have out. Of course, all of my loyal readers already own copies of all of my books, right? Right?

The other thing is a work of fiction that I’ve been working on, on and off, mostly off, for about 3 years. I think. Anyways, it’s been a long time. And precious little progress has been made in that time. But suddenly, the book makes more sense to me, and I can see the parts of it more clearly, and how they fit together, and I’m once again excited about writing it. I still find fiction a little frightening. The way that stories seem to write themselves is a little alarming. When I try to figure out the entire story, it seems to kill it. If I just start writing, the story comes out by itself, as though it already existed fully-formed, waiting to spring from my forehead like Persephone, or whoever the heck that was. Athena, perhaps? I forget.

My resolution to write something every day is going pretty well, so far. Well, not *every* day, but almost every day. And I’m taking pictures almost every day, too, and one or two of them have turned out pretty well.

Ok, back to writing. I have a deadline this weekend, and I need to get busy so that I still have some time left to procrastinate.

Cure for cancer

I know, it does indeed sound too good to be true, and I’m sure that the article is considerably dumbed down for the target audience, but it does indeed sound like there’s a potential cure for cancer in the works. I’m reminded of the scene from one of the Star Trek movies, where Bones gives a patient a tiny pill, and he’s cured from some incurable illness. In generations to come, perhaps we’ll look back at the generations of horrible deaths from cancer, and wonder how we could have thought ourselves enlightened, in the midst of such ignorance and darkness.

ApacheCon CFP

The ApacheCon CFP (Call For Papers) expires tonight at midnight Pacific time. So far we have received 194 submissions. 91 of those submissions have arrived in the since 00:01 Thursday. So it looks like we’re going to have more than 50% of the submissions arrive in the last 48 hours, once the last one comes in and the CFP is closed.

Moved to Habari

I’ve moved my site to Habari. I *thought* that the import had screwed up my categories, but turns out it was because I simply hadn’t categorized the last bunch of postings. So, laziness, not bugs.

And so I’m currently running out of the latest bleeding-edge svn. We’ll see how this goes.

Habari ghani?

There’s a growing buzz about something called Habari, so I suppose I need to write something about how, what, and why.

First of all, the name. Habari is Swahili. It means “news”, as in “what’s the news?” or “What’s happening?” or “How are you?” Thus, when you greet someone:

Jambo! (Hello!)
Habari? (What’s up?)
Mzuri. (Things are good.)

Secondly, unlike some languages, Swahili has just 5 vowels. Thus, everything is pronounced *exactly* how it is spelled.

A is AH as in father
E is AY as in table
I is EE as in seed
O is OH as in goat
U as OO as in boot

And the next-to-last syllable is stressed.

In this particular case, the r is lightly rolled.

Thus, Habari has the same vowels as the word wasabi.

I will, at some point, post an mp3 or wav file of the correct pronunciation, but I have my recording gear in a bag, and I’m too tired to set it up right now, and I think I have a bit of a head cold coming on anyways.

Ok, so on to Habari the software project. Why’d we call it Habari? Well, because I grew up in Kenya, and it seemed like a cool name to choose for a product that allows us to tell our readers what the news is.

Yes, there is another project with a very similar name, and in a slightly similar space. We had intended to get in touch with them. I don’t know if we ever did.

Why are we doing this? The reasons are myriad, and some of them are discussed on the Motivations page, so I won’t rehash them. There has been a boatload of speculation in a variety of forums about why we, the Founding Fathers, would choose to leave WordPress and do something different. These speculations range from the mundane (we wanted to start fresh and explore new ideas) to the absurd (we were bitter about not being offered jobs at Automattic). The former is the real truth. The latter gave me a good chuckle, and so wasn’t a complete waste of bits. šŸ˜‰

Yes, there were frustrations that we wanted to get away from. And there were philosophical differences about how an Open Source community should be run. But there is no ill-will towards WordPress, even where there are differences of opinion on the Right Way to do things. In Open Source, done right, it’s not harmful to have two healthy projects in the same space. When licenses are sensible the projects can learn from one another, improve on each other’s ideas, and have healthy competition, as well as striving for interop. I see no downside, if we can continue to coexist in a friendly rivalry.

What blows me away is how much we’ve been able to accomplish in so short a time.

Yes, I’m still running WordPress. This is primarily because I have been hugely preoccupied for the last two months, and have simply not been able to take the time to do computerish things. The migration is really quite simple and semi-trivial, and I might go ahead and do it tonight, since I have a few moments. If I wasn’t so very tired.

Maybe tomorrow.

Apache Bikers?

So I hear there’s an Apache bikers group forming. Where do I find out more details?

I bought a fancy new bike this summer, and after riding it nearly 100 miles, I pretty much stopped, due to weather, time, and laziness. I need to get started again, and perhaps this would be the motivation I need.

The roads around here – particularly on the work side of the county line – are very bike-unfriendly, but within Fayette county, there are sidewalks most places, and it’s only slightly death-defying to bike places.

Meritocracy

I recently posted a comment in response to a posting over on neosmart about the nature of meritocracy.

Meritocracy is government by those with ability. That is, the people who contribute things which are useful to the community rise to the positions of power in the community. Within software development, this means that the people who add useful features get to be the ones who decide, the next time around, what is useful and what is not.

Matt claims that WordPress is a meritocracy. I disagree. WordPress has one attribute that eliminates it from that category – Matt is in charge. Please don’t take this as an attack on Matt. It’s not. It’s a question of definitions. The fact that there is one person who has the final say makes WordPress not a meritocracy. Even if Matt always bends to the will of the people, he still has the final say.

And so, when he cites as evidence times that things have gone into the code with which he personally disagreed, this doesn’t make it a meritocracy, because he had the final say on it.

I’ve been involved in Apache for some time, on the HTTPd server project. Over the course of the last 8 or 9 years, I’ve watched the team of “core developers” change a number of times. The folks that were making the decisions when I started are, for the most part, no longer there. In a bloodless coup, the government of the HTTPd project has changed a number of times, with the core vision staying very similar through that process. People who contribute useful functionality are raised to the Project Management Committee (PMC) where they get to decide the direction of the project, as well as which new people will be given commit access to continue the project into the future.

I think that this is largely about trust. If someone appears to get the vision, then, in a meritocracy, you trust that person to carry that vision, and you give then the reins. They get to make the next generation of improvements, and they get to decide who they, in turn, trust to be the generation after that.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with the community structure that WordPress has chosen. Many Open Source projects operate in that manner. It’s just not how I would personally choose to participate in a project. I find it frustrating as a user to see ideas submitted, debated on a mailing list, and then killed because one of the project leaders decides it’s a bad idea. I find it frustrating as a developer to have the same small group of leaders sit court over patches. I find it frightening, as a community member, to see such a low bus factor.

Of course, time will tell whether we at Habari are really any different. I would be the first to admit that my contributions thus far have been rather puny. I get the vision, but I haven’t done much to make it happen. As such, my voice on the mailing lists doesn’t carry much weight. I keep meaning to participate more, but life gets in the way, and I just run out of time at the end of each day. The good thing is that I know that there are intelligent and talented people carrying the project forward much faster than I could on my own, or if I had to be personally involved in every decision merely because I’m one of the Founding Fathers of Habari. I do continue to hope that I’ll have some time to hack out some of the ideas I have for it. But here I am still using WordPress – a fine product, which does most of what I need it to do, most of the time.

I’ll post something else, real soon, about Habari, and the reasons we started doing it. I am reasonably sure that Chris, Skippy, and Owen will probably beat me to it.

The talk about whether Habari will crush WordPress are really beside the point. The real issues are whether we’ll produce a compelling product, and whether we’ll have fun doing it. I don’t consider “beating” WordPress to be a serious consideration, any more than Apache considers “beating” IIS to be a serious consideration. The consideration is to produce the best product we can, scratch our personal itches, be responsive to users, and have a lot of fun. Relative marketshare is, of course, one of many measures of those things, but it is by no means the most important measure.

I will say, however, that anyone who’s been involved in technology for more than 12 minutes and thinks that any one product or company has the lock on a particular sector of the market, for all time, just hasn’t been paying attention. Remarks like those made here about there being no space for a new software product in a particular space are delusional. There’s always space for a new product to unseat a previous leader, and in software it’s easier than anywhere else, because manufacture costs are so low. Suggesting otherwise suggests that things will always be as they are now, which is fatalistic and depressing.

Where I’m from

A while back, my sister posted Where I’m from, which was inspired by Where I’m from. I wrote one then, too, but, as with anything this personal, it’s hard to put it out there for the whole world to see. But, someone who means a great deal to me said that it was good, so I’ll share it with you, my loyal reader.

Just about every line is a story, and several of the lines are several stories. Some of you know those stories already.

Where I’m From

Where I’m From

I am from the EAR&H and the Tea Hotel. I am from Mara, Tsavo, the Mount Kenya Safari Club, and the slopes of Mount Longonot.
I’m from long rides through the night on the KRR,
and waking up in Mombasa, the most wonderful place on earth,
where there was sand and jellyfish and sunburn and coconuts, and never enough days to enjoy it.

I am from John Denver, Roger Whittaker, Doctor Hook, and the SPEBSQSA. From Peter and the Wolf, Pinky and Perky, and hours and hours of Aunt B telling me a story. I am from VOK and Them Mushrooms and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

I’m from the Word Of Life camp, and Indian Springs camp,
and the bizarre snake camp where we learned to identify and kill cottonmouths.

I am from KPS
and Howard Middle School (where I was somebody!),
and Nairobi Academy and FHS and how many other schools where I was always the strange kid from somewhere else.

I’m from St. Andrews, where all the kids were from somewhere else,
and I was no stranger than anyone else.
I’m from counting tipples, counting laps, and counting stars and stripes.
I am from le Danse Macabre and Finlandia and Where is Love?
I’m from Lord Baden Powell and Jackrabbit and Ma and Pa Lavers.

I’m from Grandmere with her immaculate home,
Grandpere, who knew how many ear leaves he had picked up,
Grandma who always won at Scrabble, and couldn’t turn off the ice cream machine,
Grandad, who I never knew, but who taught me that people are funnier than anybody.
And from Mom and Dad, who taught me to love books,
and kites
and gave me a passion to see the whole world,
and gave me a good start in that direction.

I am from Middle Earth, and Discworld,
Derry and Green Town,
from Douglas Spaulding, Noddy, Flick Ohmsford, and Oliver Twist.
I’m from Kenneth Grahame, Richard Scarry, Enid Blyton and Charles Dickens.

I’m from home being the place we just left,
and never being quite sure what to say when asked,
so, where are you from?