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The Ubuntu Girl
one girl's journey into the brotherhood of geekdom
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21st-Aug-2008 09:07 am - Dells new sub-notebook
ubu eye

If this is true, then I want one. Correction I want at least five; one for me and one for each highschool aged niece/nephew. yes, I spoil them muchly.
6th-Aug-2008 09:45 pm - BarCamp Houston this weekend!
ubu eye
I've been wanting to attend one of these for a long time but. . . I'm still not sure if I'll be able to. Family stuff happening or trying to happen this weekend as well. But if anyone is in the Houston are this weekend, be sure to check out Bar Camp Houston. Here are the various links to info about the event:


25th-May-2008 09:43 pm - Managing user expectations. . .
ubu eye
Just documenting here some notes from various meetings at Rice University with the Connexions and Sakai projects.

Cnx is trying to position itself as a wiki alternative. Not an LMS but certainly a CMS for academic materials. They still haven't publicly released their source code, rapthos, and are looking for some technical answers on version control and other management issues. I think they need to talk to the Launchpad and Bzr folks, I told em so. It's a Zope/Plone back end.

License for materials is CC-SA but not NC.
Once something is published it can never be removed, only deprecated or modified - ack, scary.
Performance issues need to be worked out; servers not optimized.
Gov't of Taiwan is using it internally.
Need to think about ways to integrate/link multiple sites instead of one big repository currently hosted by Rice.
Just hired a Community Services person to assist in content conversion.
Uses it own xml - cnxml for authoring material.
Not that user-friendly but getting better.
Print on demand - they say it works but it doesn't really yet but it does export some nice PDFs.

Sakai at Rice. Can I just say there are some really Smart folks over there at Rice. (Disclosure: they did finally give me a degree in the mid 90s and I did work there for a bit too.) But really, every time I go back there and get to talk with some of the folks there it gets me all itchy to be back in a think tank like environment. Imagine being paid to think about creative ways to do things and having the budget to try them. And having really smart folks around to ask your most basic questions to and they don't treat you like an idiot. Well anyways, they switched from WebCT to Sakai a few years ago after WebCT tried to blackmail, er, charge them a half million dollars in licensing fees; jumping from about $100k to $500k in one year. This when you discover you're being screwed by a proprietary model and you start seeking alternatives. Not that the school can't afford that amount but still, there were better solutions and they settled on Sakai.

Rice is a small school who will never offer distance learning classes in the traditional sense but rather it was looking for course support. Sakai was chosen over Moodle b/c of its bent toward higher education as well as the consortium involved in development and support. Rice is a growing part of that process. Overall they are pleased with the product even though:
- there is no set release cycle
- there is no real "Search" (indexing issue) functionality

They currently only have part-time staff devoted to keep their Sakai servers happy and provide user support. They are usually one release behind; try to keep server upgrades in the summer.

Carlos also outlined an interesting problem they had in rolling out Sakai. The fact that it was open source was overstated (in his opinion) b/c it gave end users an unrealistic expectation that they could change/fix any and everything their hearts desired. They need to do a better job of managing end users expectations b/c just b/c you can change things doesn't mean it should be. There is now a whole process of deciding what needs to be fixed/changed for Rice and what might be rolled upstream to the Sakai project.
14th-May-2008 09:10 am - the best words on the olpc state. . .
ubu eye

Amen, Ivan!

and history repeats itself. . .

reminds me of why I left the education sector; the politics overriding the learning, the children. I can't tell you how many "laptop giveaway" projects I've been involved in and even more I've heard of. The same mistakes get made over and over again. "If you give them away, all problems will magically be solved." argh! It's not about the machine, it's the people who use them and genuinely need them but are left with no direction. Start with the learning! I spent a few summers training hundreds of teachers on their new 'free' laptops and yet the trickle to students was negligible. We were literally given a million dollars to spend on hardware but no training development, no curriculum integration and no social issues. I should stop now. . . but only b/c I have a meeting in two hours to discuss, what else, education and free software and new technology in academic settings. Sakai anyone? Connexions?

lol - guess I'm still the idealist who wants to reach those billion children. If Ivan and Walter do start the Open Learning foundation you can bet I'll be sending my resume.
17th-Apr-2008 05:38 pm - Why I stopped programming. . .
ubu eye
I've been pondering that question for a few days/weeks now. There doesn't seem to be an easy answer. I can't point to one event or any bad experience but somewhere along the way it just stopped being fun.

I can clearly recall the day I wrote my first real program. Highschool computer fundamentals class; i.e. Basic programming, Mr. Bacon (probably no relation to Jono) was our teacher and my teammates were Amy Pollak and some guy who I can't recall. We had procrastinated on the assignment for weeks and we had all of 50 minutes to turn in our project. They both turned to me and said, "Help." I sat down at the Apple IIe and 48 minutes later I had created a program that drew a rainbow-colored sun that then dropped into the blue horizon line of the ocean. Magic.

The pixels were huge too. Big lego-sized blocks of color to form the sun and ocean. I used a loop to make the sun drop and then disappear below the horizon. We got an A! And I learned two very important lessons that day; 1.) That I could make computers do things for me and 2.) That I could procrastinate weeks of work into a few short minutes if I really concentrated. The second lesson being the bane of the way I continue to work today. Give me a deadline and I'll meet it even though it may look like I'm doing nothing in the interim.

And then I finished all my HS classes early and so they let me take some college courses while still a Senior. The best thing about the whole arrangement was that my college classes were on Tues & Thurs. but I didn't tell my HS that and so on MWF I had three hours off in the middle of the day to go to my Grandma's and have a free lunch and take a nap or write my English papers which were due when I got back.

The classes were Fortran and Pascal. And yes, I'm "that" old. I did well in the classes and found them interesting even I thought I wasn't doing as well as I really was. I got A's and graduated with honors from HS and then went off to college to study. . . Theology. Don't ask, it was an interesting time. But computers kept their hold me and I took extra classes to learn more about them and even considered Comp Sci for my Master's studies but something happened along the way.

I found a more interesting challenge. I ended up majoring in Education with a concentration in Instructional Technology; I find the best way to use technology to teach people things. That along with the whole science of how people learn things I just found fascinating and still do to a certain extent. But alas my journey into the world of Open Source has me wondering why I'm no longer a coder. I figure if I can answer that question we'd have the key to why there are so few women in F/OSS.

And the only answer I have is that somewhere along the way it stopped being fun/challenging/interesting. I think once I found out I could make computers do things for me, the challenge of following the rules of programming to make it happen disappeared. There were enough other folks doing the coding but to me at least, the real challenge was in adoption policy and user training. A visit to any school will tell you that it's not the technology but the policy that is holding us back But then again, that may be my bias of a Political Science degree and too many technology committees who insist kids have to use Windows "because that's what we use at work," or even better, "We'll get sued if we use Open Source software."

So "Good on ya" to all the coders of the world. I'll keep using your programs and I'll keep fighting the good fight to get your work into the hands of the world.
24th-Mar-2008 10:31 pm - Lug Radio USA
ubu eye
Lug Radio USA - be there! I will. I just confirmed my flight and try as I might just couldn't fit in a side trip to Vegas. (woe is me) But alas the event is looking to be a great time. Now I really should get my talk straightened up, eh? When I was commuting, I practiced on the way home but the talk always ended up being way too long. So now I need to get it together, gather up the giveaway toys and get serious about putting on a good show for the masses.

It's strange, b/c I'm really a rather shy person but for some reason talking about Open Source and especially Ubuntu have made me really enjoy public speaking. Perhaps one of the big changes is that talking for myself and not having to represent some company or other entity who's paid my way to such conferences. That's freedom.

The topic this time around will be "Finding Your Voice in the Open Source Community." The past few months I've become interested in how new contributors find their way into the various groups. It seems every group is always asking for help and new folks are always looking for mentors but I think the path into being a contributor is more difficult than most think.

Hope you can make it out!
ubu eye
or as final as any living document gets. I just finished proofing chapters 5, 7 & 8. Eesh, too much like real work but I'm glad I was able to lend a hand. Like all Ubuntu projects, we could use your help with the Training Team. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Training for more info. The next meeting is scheduled for 3 April 1600 UTC.

Looking forward we'd like to get more folks involved, work closer with the Doc Team and I'm pretty sure there is also a match with the Classroom Project. Perhaps now that I'm working from home (yeah, my home even) I'll have some time to devote to some of this fun. That or I need to schedule a Vegas trip soon. . .
21st-Nov-2007 07:17 am - more FUD in the education sector. . .
ubu eye
Argh. I had a conversation last night with someone in the education sector. I mentioned that I was now using Moodle and they made the comment that "We can't deploy open source in the elementary schools because it's not secure. We'd get sued." I was too shocked to even reply. Now this was coming from a colleague and not just your average education person and I've been championing open source technologies to them for over a year including the security benefits but geez, was that frustrating.

So we're back to FUD in education, where we need emerging, collaborative technologies the most. Speaking in schools is great b/c the kids just get it, the Administrators not so much.

. . . and a little child shall lead them. . . (I hope).
29th-Oct-2007 06:16 pm - UDS Boston
ubu eye
Forgot to post over here - I'm going but won't arrive in Boston until Wednesday afternoon. I tried to listen into some of the voip sessions this morning with not much luck so far. I'm still troubleshooting this error message: "The NetworkManager applet cannot locate some required resources. It cannot continue." No luck in various support places; irc, forums, etc. I'm going to try a reinstall in a bit - argh.

Here's how you can Participate via voip or listen to the icecast.

Once I get there we'll also be having a Training BOF. And I'm hoping to help map out our next steps for the Ubuntu Community Training Team and brainstorm on community-based training offerings for next year. As usual there is lots of other interesting stuff happening - see the daily schedulea here: http://people.ubuntu.com/~scott/uds-boston-2007/
24th-Oct-2007 08:33 pm - should I stay or should I go?
ubu eye
Story of my life, really. I'm debating with myself over going to next week's UDS in Boston. There are tons of great stuff happening and lots of great specs plus it's an LTS release so knowing what's going on at this level will no doubt help with our training plans. My problem is that I'm waiting to hear on some new job news so I may need to conserve financial resources a bit longer and the trip will not be cheap. ugh, decisions, decisions.

Also would love to be seeing lots of great folks who are scheduled to be there and most importantly would love some whiteboard time with Billy C to help map out the Community Training map for next year.

What to do? what to do? what to do?
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