Tag Archives: general


Perhaps the best talk of the entire conference was Kathy Sierra giving her talk about passion. It was about marketing. It was about documentation. It was about getting people interested in our open source work, not for the sake of the project itself, but for the sake of what they can do with it.

She talked about the Nikon website, which shows you the amazingly cool pictures you can take with their camera, and how you can do that. Then she contrasted this with the documentation that comes with the camera which is all about the camera itself, and doesn’t at all speak to the passion of the person.

Passion is something that you spend your time, money, emotions and energy on. And it’s something that frequently looks completely irrational to anyone that doesn’t share your passion.

She asked us each to turn to our neighbor and tell that person what we are passionate about, but we weren’t allowed to mention anything to do with programming, computers, or Open Source development. Unsurprisingly, a number of people had a really hard time coming up with anything at first, given these restrictions. But after a moment, most people (it seemed) thought of something that they indeed spend a lot of time and energy on, that might not be considered rational by the rest of us.

It’s important to step back and consider why we do the things we do. Why they’re important to us. Whether they really matter in the grand scheme of things.

I find that an enormous amount of my identity is tied up in Apache-related things, and I sometimes wonder if what I do with Apache really makes any difference in the world, or if it’s just something that I do in order that people will know who I am. While Hubris is one of the Three Virtues, it’s not particularly sustainable in the long haul. But passion, on the other hand, is sustainable, even if it’s not particularly rational, at least from the external view.

I have a passion for teaching beginners how to use stuff. I’m not entirely sure why, since they are only infrequently grateful. But the few folks that seem genuinely grateful make it all worth it. I think it also has a lot to do with how folks helped me when I was beginning, and the time that they invested in me.

So, once again, a big thank you to the folks who helped me figure stuff out when this was all so new to me. I imagine that most of you don’t even remember helping me. But you never know what impact your actions are going to have.

Feathercast #6

There’s a new FeatherCast this morning. It came out of an attempt to interview Sally, who refused to be interviewed, and turned it into interviewing me. So I rambled on for quite a bit, although it’s not particularly clear to me that anyone would have much interest in what I had to say. But David said it was worth putting up, and there it is. Hope you enjoy it.

Blogging and Journalism

Today I read yet another cutting-edge piece of “journalism” that claimed that, surprise, surprise, bloggers aren’t replacing “real” journalists.

Wow. I hope he didn’t stay up all night coming up with that.

So, two things that I’d like to say about this.

First of all, blogging isn’t about replacing journalism. It’s about people exercising their right to free speech, and saying whatever they want. Someone once said that the freedom of the press belongs to the man who has one. Well, now we’ve all got one, and we’re using it. Whether what we come up with is “news” or “journalism” is really unimportant. What’s important is that we’re publishing, speaking, saying things. And that we’re writing.

Throughout human history there have been thousands of writers, and a handful of them have had something to say that endured. Now there are millions of writers, and (this should come as no shock to those who understand statistics) a somewhat larger handful of them have something to say that’s enduring. The more people we encourage to write, the more good stuff will be written. But, as always, 90% of everything is crap.

Second, and more interesting to me – sure, bloggers aren’t journalists. But most journalists aren’t journalists either. The article complains that most bloggers write about the topic of “me.” Well, on one hand, journalism is telling the human story. That doesn’t mean that everyone’s story is interesting. But I think that professional journalists are afraid that we’re going to compare what they’re writing to what we’re writing, and realize that we’re just not interested in what they’re writing any more.

Today on the front page of CNN.com, in the list of “latest news”, there is “How much for a date with Jennifer Biel”, “Where are Hollywood’s curvy women”, “‘King of Queens’ star: I’ve seen Suri Cruise”, “Robotic hysterectomy is ‘cool,’ woman says”, “Pet dies after dog-training ‘exorcism'”, “SI.com: ‘Damon sucks’ bibs hit a nerve”, and, oh yeah, “Hezbollah leader apologizes for child deaths”.

With my limited time in the morning, I’m far more likely to read “Year 2038 Bug Strikes Early, Salaam, Mumbai, and Goats and Fish. Is it journalism? I don’t know. But I’m far more interested in the lives of these people than in the life of Jennifer Biel. At least they are real people who I have met, and who I actually think are interesting people.

I tend to think that this is why professional journalists keep setting up this strawman and knocking it down, and why they point to the silly teenage bloggers with their acronym-laden content-free twaddle, rather than to the Matt Drudges of the world. They’re afraid that we’ll notice that the journalists don’t have anything constructive to add to the conversation either, and that the point is to communicate, not to wear a press pass.

Internet history: Dead map bookmarks

My bookmark file is quite elderly, having travelled from one computer to another with me for at least 10 years, and bits of it longer than that. This evening I came across a sub-sub-folder containing links to internet mapping sites. Alas, of the 4 sites, 3 of them were deceased.

PARC.Xerox was the first internet mapping site I ever encountered. Alas, this service is no more.

The Delorme CyberAtlas was, as far as I know, the very first website where you could put in two addresses and get a door-to-door map. First one I ever found, anyways. I remember it causing a bit of a stir that you could put in someone street address and get a map to their front door. Seems silly now. Alas, this site is deceased, although the company is still going strong.

Mapquest, of course, still going strong, and largely unchanged all these years later.

And, one that I found perhaps most interesting of all, Yahoo Maps at its original location, http://www.proximus.com/yahoo/. The domain name is now apparently owned by Microsoft, while Yahoo Maps itself has moved elsewhere.

And there endeth the history lesson. I found a bunch of other goodies buried in the bowels of my bookmark file, but they’ll have to wait for another time.


As usual, the week was suddenly over almost before I had a chance to catch my breath. It was quite the whirlwind, and I didn’t really get out of the hotel much, except for a few times to grab something to eat.

I got interviews with several interesting people, for FeatherCast, but so far have only had a chance to edit and post one of them. Ok, really, David did most of the work. I still have the raw audio for several of the others.

I talked with Sanjiva about ApacheCon Asia. I talked with Bill Rowe about Apache on Windows. Justin about being treasurer. Ken about ApacheCon in general. Greg about being chairman, and what this whole ASF thing is about.

And I got to talk at great length with Brian, which I’m writing another post about. So be patient.

All these, and more, will appear on FeatherCast over the next few months, as I have time to edit.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent entirely too much time trying to get my mail client working. Apparently there’s just something in 10.4.7 that breaks Thunderbird, and I’ll have to use something else while I wait for somebody to fix that.

Or maybe it’s just me.


I just got done with my mod_rewrite talk. I recorded it, and am going to try to podcast it, including the slides. I have no idea how well this is going to work or how much work it’s going to take. I assume I’ll listen to it in Garage Band and drop in the next slide at the appropriate times. We’ll see. Should have that up early next week.

This is in preparation for my plan of world domination – um, I mean, my plan to take my training classes and turn them into online training. If this goes well, I’ll continue to do this for all my class segments until I have the whole course as m4a files.

Analog Blog 5

** Transcribed from the original manuscript **

This campsite makes me feel like an amateur detective. Alas, I’ve destroyed the crime scene.

The last people to camp here had horses – at least two, but perhaps more. There were at least three people in the party, and they had ramen noodles for their supper. After supper they drank copiously – Bud Lite for most of them, but one of them drank Smirnoff Ice.

While they sat around the campfire drinking, one whittled a short stick, which he then threw into the woods. A few of the bottles followed the stick into the woods.

Oh, and they also had corn with dinner. And barbecue flavored potato chips. And some drink in one of those little single-serving plastic bottles that the top twists off of.

They probably also had a truck of sime kind, since they left behind a lot of hay. Or perhaps it was just a one-day camping trip, and so no need to conserve the hay. Not sure about this one.

I expect Monk would know.

Analog Blog 4

** Transcribed from the original manuscript **

I’m finding, as usual, that relaxing is very hard work. Fortunately, there’s stuff to do, but I keep wanting to do stuff that requires the Internet.

This morning I read “The Alchemist”, by Paulo Coelho. It has been many moons since the last time I was able to sit and read a whole book at one witting without interruptions. Maybe I’ll read another one this afternoon.

The Alchemist is about persuing your dream, and not being sidetracked by other things. Of course, that is a gross oversimilification. You should read it. It only takes a morning. 🙂

I moved the tent to a flatter spot. Perhaps I’ll sleep better tonight.

Thinking about something Sarah said, while looking at my not-so-great handwriting. “Why don’t you always do your personal best?” Doing your personal best is one of the mantras at her school. It’s a good one. Coelho made me think of this too. The secret of success is to always do your personal best. Figuring out what that means, is, I suppose, a life long quest.

Anyways, it is indeed very relaxing out here. Perhaps I’ll actually make it through the weekend. We’lll see. Next time out, I need to plan the menu a little more carefully. Time to go see what’s for lunch.

vim code completion fu

Thanks to jMCg, _Lewellyn, and various others on #apache for examples and inspiration, I now have the following in my .vimrc

” Autocomplete stuff for .php, .pl files, thanks to jMCg, _Lewellyn, et
” al on #apache.
au FileType php,pl :abbrev if if () {<CR>}<ESC>klllli
au FileType php,pl :abbrev else else {<CR>}<ESC>O
au FileType php,pl :abbrev elseif elseif {<CR>}<ESC>O
au FileType php :abbrev /** /**<CR> *<CR>*/<ESC>kA
au FileType php :abbrev switch switch ( ) {<CR><CR>case ‘foo’ :<CR>break;<CR><CR>default :<CR>break;<CR>}<ESC>kkkkkkkllllllla
au FileType php :abbrev function /**<CR> * Description<CR>*<CR>* @param<CR>* @return<CR>*/<CR><ESC>A<CR>function() {<CR>}<ESC>klllllllli

It’s nothing terribly fancy, but it expands if, else, elseif, and function to full code blocks, and, in the case of function, gives a skeleton phpdoc block all ready for useful documentation. And it will save me a lot of typing.

Note that each au starts a new line. I imagine the lines wrap rather differently in your browser window.

Getting there …

Signs are good that I’ll be back in shape fairly quickly, if the first two days can really be anything to judge by. Yesterday I rode 4 miles, with a significant rest at the 2 mile mark, and ended up feeling like rubber. Today I rode just over 6 – out to SFOJ and back – and felt tired but not utterly wiped out at the end of it. On Saturday afternoon, I’m going to try biking all the way out to Wilmore – or perhaps I’ll do it on Sunday. It depends on … stuff. But I think there’s a reasonable chance that I’ll make it Hopefully I won’t have to bum a ride back. 😉