Monthly Archives: March 2011

Travel Mode Commences Tomorrow

Tomorrow I pull it all together and hit the road for Sydney for 2 weeks. I have some final email to pull together and people to let know. I’ve flown the same directions so many times that there is not an unknown to this whole process except this time I am going somewhere I have not been before. How I travel remains the same. Doug over at onebag knows the answer since he’s the one that showed me enlightenment a few years ago. The rules are simple. Pack what you need and nothing more. Here is how I do it. First I have the RedOxx AirBoss. Clothing gets packed like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much to take though? What should be the number of pairs of socks, underwear, shirts, jeans? I have a simple rule and since my company pays for laundry service; I take sets of 4 plus the one I have on. This means that every fifth day I do laundry or the hotel does. I pack 1 nice shirt, 4 t-shirts that I wear for work (again I am lucky here), and one clean pair of jeans. In a smaller bag that gets placed in the “core” I pack up the underwear, socks, and some so-called “Comfy clothes” to wear around the hotel room.

In the center compartment of my AirBoss, I put in a toiletry bag plus a bag of electrical plugs and stuff I need. I try to limit the so-called infrastructure to a core set of things. I want only one outlet coming out of the wall so I replace chargers with the ChargePod where I can. This device will charge at one time six things so it gets my phone, my mp3 player, my kindle. My Xoom requires a different power connector (darn). But its so handy at airports and places. But what I want is a limited number of “wall warts” and only one plug going into the hotel outlet.

Now the C-ruck gets my laptop, some papers, my mp3 player, kindle, noise cancelling headphones so the sales guy will not bother me :-).  The C-ruck sits at my feet so I can get my stuff easily. I will want my kindle and mp3 player to be within reach.

Both bags are the right size for carryon bags. And that’s the magic doods and doodettes. No checked luggage. No hassles at airports. No losing baggage.

Happier traveling thanks to RedOxx and onebag.com!

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Leaving for Sydney tomorrow night

Tomorrow I leave for Sydney for 2 weeks. I am hoping to have a weekend there to do walking tours, learn my way around, and take lots of photos.

The bigger news for me personally is some friends reached out to me with some particularly interesting news about this business prospect we worked on some years ago. I feel the need to have a passion thing in my life that i can do aside of the work at CustomWare. Something which may benefit and extend my knowledge of how to build solutions which are attractive to a variety of groups. Something which focuses on Linux and open source that will enable others to make more use of the technology and applications out there.

I also started looking at a trip back to Singapore and India in October of this year with a certain 12-year old which seems insistent on going. My plan is to first travel to Singapore and spend a few days there. Then gather things up and fly off to Chennai India.  My goal would be to be there during Diwali festival times so that Arry can see the fireworks at a different level. I have rather vivid memories of the Diwali in 2009 which I spent at the Raintree Hotel on the roof. I went up to eat first and then drank a few beers and watched the amazing displays. Our fireworks here are rather self-contained and remote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just tremendous, anarchistic, chaotic and lots of fun!

I want to get back really badly to India during the festival times; show my daughter Chennai. Meet up with friends there.

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Filed under Current Events, Travel

Xooming Along

So I had decided to bide my time before getting a tablet. There never was any thought about buying the iPad/2 thing. I just am not impressed with most Apple products and the ‘pad is one of them which rates low. I don’t like things that are closed or silos. Just because the MAC laptops use a BSD core does not mean they adhere to the BSD standard or philosophical attitude about licensing. The truth is though is that there is no choice. You get one kind of phone in white or black. One type of ipad. One type of ipod. No CPU, memory, storage. Nothing to chose from. No ability to break it if you want, break the warranty, make it do strange and wonderful things.

I knew I would want a real Honeycomb Tablet just in seeing what it looked like in reviews and previews. Today, I sauntered into a Staples and they had the wifi only Xoom. I own a mifi device already that does wireless wherever I am and can do it for 5 devices at a time. I can tether to my phone as well and that works well. I’ve used my Tmobile G2 as a disaster relief tool a few times to send email or files out that were in need. The need for a SImcard driven device was not there. But having a wifi one is cool. It means I can go to Starbucks, the airport, other places and not take the laptop out to do email, watch youTube stuff, even ssh home. Its a portable plaything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it looks pretty cool! Honeycomb has this polished look and feel. The way you interact with it so different. Its very touchy and feely. Things spring out at you because of the processors. You get the full market and its potential.

But most of all, its unfinished. Yes unfinished is good. Just like Android on my Tmobile G2 and perhaps my new G2x when its released. I’m in this for the long haul. Every dollar I spend on Android gives it more juice and adds to the baseline statistic. I don’t want Android domination. I don’t really care if it does or does not. What I do want is choice. Choice is a mighty drug. I want a level playing field where there are a whole galaxy of devices that I can choose from. One has this much memory. One has dual core processors. Another is made for smaller shows like mp3 playing like my rooted Archos 5it 160gb unit.

So choice is also a mighty drug. The Xoom will be fun and I’ll use it for work, play, and learning. I can read kindle books on it. I can be online in moments whether in coffee shops or airports. I’ll be taking it with me to Sydney in a week. I may write some blogposts on it. I plan on doing some tourist type stuff so look for pictures as well on my picasa. I also am planning out a trip to Singapore and Chennai for October. I want to spend a week in Chennai and a few days in Singapore and see friends there. Chris, Deepak, Wari, Raghav, Rajesh, Dinesh; everyone. Missing you guys. Hope to see you later this year.

 

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Filed under Android

Back to WordPress

Seems like I do this often. I get tired of WordPress and then I return. Its pretty nice to have both database and import/export files saved. I just edit the php.ini file to let me upload larger files, kick apache2, and then I get the  blog back. I noticed that my images always seem to be missing. I don’t really care about that so much. I have all of it backed up. I could probably restore the directories.

Anyways, here I am back again. I guess I need this thing.

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Boot Licking and Hair Splitting

Way back when, if you appeased the demons or the Drill Sergeants, you were accused of “boot licking”.  When I headed off to Graduate School in anthropology, my mentor and friend RWR told me in response to my question regarding what I would need to do to ensure success that I must “book lick”. I’ve never been really good at boot licking though. In both cases I found my way through the pain parts. There is no nirvana after boot licking though. Its not like you succeed at it. You simply lower your own ego and submit to another’s. That’s not healthy for someone as egotistical as yours truly. I’m not saying this in some anti-social way. Truth is I care for relatively few people out there. I’ve learned a few lessons in work and perhaps school around this whole thing which seem characteristic of my life in work. Don’t make work buddies. I’ve tried this a few times with really disastrous results. In one case, DaveR was my work buddy at Levanta. I enjoyed the moments I had with him; good and bad. But still it only totaled 6 months. Epic fail. I still miss DaveR.

Don’t appease the work Gods to make a dent in acceptance. Its simply not worth it to bow that low. If they like your work, it does not follow that they must just love you. I think its reasonable to separate the two out. You can be a fine employee and team member and still live a life separate.

Work is an end unto itself and not a means to an end. It gives money and sometimes more. Sometimes it gives the ultimate joy. That sense of contribution, delivery, cool challenge. As an example, I worked for three months solving a really time constrained issue for BMC and CSC which resulted in over 100 of their Marimba repeaters not repeating at all, disks were corrupted, systems sometimes would not serve the data. At this interlude, I built the entire delivery system, repaired the systems, sent 6 to 7 systems back every day. I also managed the entire thing. So I did the delivery, the management, the customer relationship. They paid $200.00 an hour for me at PS rates.

This last thing framed my existence, made me realize what kind of contribution I could make, and also let me stretch out on Linux and build the entire thing. A true sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, this kind of total feeling does not come but every so often these days. Project management means you never really touch a single thing for more than an hour or so. Customers simply do not want to pay for more and never should be asked. We’re just enhanced coffee makers, meeting schedulers, planners. Most do not make technical contributions and really cannot.

The reasons for this are numerous. Its not technical skill or ability related. Its more that we are expected to touch more projects at a single time, impart our scheduling and management abilities, and NOT STICK AROUND TO GUM UP THE WORKS. Yes those are in caps folks.

Dilbert perhaps has it right. Projects go from stinking piles of failure but it all depends on who asks :-)

So we do bootlick and split hairs. Such is the work of life when you manage projects. I ain’t complaining. I like managing technical projects. I especially like working with enterprising developers and have had the privilege of working alongside some imminent ones out there in open source/Linux land. But the mainstay always was the guy in PS at Linuxcare that just did this job, worked toward the goal, and met the requirements and was not some super star. They’re the real winners.

I just manage. Excuse the boot licking and hair splitting.

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Travel Mode Ensues Again

Here it is Friday morning at the hotel. I’m going to work this morning in the room capturing all the notes from the meetings yesterday. Around 11am I’ll check out and then tour around downtown Saint Louis. The path I want to take will let me see a number of architectural and historic wonders of the city and I’ll do a huge loop around the historic downtown to see the sights. I’ll end up back at the hotel and head to the airport around 4pm I figure. Pictures will be forthcoming on my Picasa site.

Travel Mobility and Thoughts

I’ve been doing the no-check baggage routine for about 2 years now. I replaced all my heavy duty roller bags with RedOxx carry on gear. This trip I packed up my RedOxx Ruck.

The ruck is an excellent carry on bag and I stuf it full of clothes packed in a large packing cube. The packing cubes are a cheap way to organize clothing and come in three different sizes.

I found them an easy way to control clothing inside the Ruck. The way to pack the packing cubes is to fold clothing flat. Don’t leave socks grouped up and fat. Fold them flat too. Shirts will not wrinkle. Here is what I traveled with for a 2 day trip this time and it all fit in the large packer:

  • 2 T Shirts
  • 2 underwear
  • 2 pair of socks
  • 1 pair extra jeans (probably not needed; but like clean clothes)
  • 2 collared short-sleeve shirts
  • Comfortable clothing (light sweats and old debian t-shirt)

All fits inside this one bag and then the bag is slid into the ruck. The ruck also holds small amounts of travel infrastructure in two small packing containers that go on the outside of the Ruck in its external pockets. I pack my callpod multiple USB charger, a USB cable because I like to flash my Android phone on the road, a portable set of headphones/mic for calls I always need to do, and my Archos 5it multimedia device.

So when its all done; I have the Ruck and this second bag which qualifies as the personal item for carry-on. The personal bag is the RedOxx Gator bag which holds my kindle, the Archos, some noise and irritating conversation stopping headphones, and any paper stuff I need. Now finally for the packing order to get this all working:

  1. laptop goes into the ruck in its sleeve
  2. toiletry bag goes in the bottom of the main compartment
  3. clothing bag goes in the central compartment
  4. two small bags go in external pockets

Voila! Everything and more I need for two days. This method works folks. It means no checked baggage so when I land somewhere, I speed through customs or get out to the curbside faster than anyone else. Thanks to Team RedOxx and OneBag for all the clues. You’ve lessened my travel frustrations significantly.  Why not do this next time you travel? Take stock of what you need. What you really need that is. Even on long trips, I only take my RedOxx Air Boss and the Ruck to carry computer gear, wiring, etc. Flight delay or cancellation and no baggage to change clothes? No big deal at all. I have it all with me.

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Short Trip, Long Thoughts

Its my first day here in Saint Louis after a minor beery evening in the hotel bar last night. I enjoy being away immensely even on short trips like this one. Today I journey over to a hosting partner we work a lot with and do meetings with them on a new software product. Fun times! No real deliverables on my part. I got an invite today to attend a job fair for positions in India. Just about 1.5 months late for me; but I would still love to relocate permanently back. The cities on my list there are Chennai and Bangalore primarily. I’d take either one.

I’ll go for a walk today around the city after work; take some photo’s, eat a dinner somewhere. I’ll have the usual crop of work email to contend with when I get back. Tomorrow no time for a walk. I finish at about 3pm and the flight leaves at 7 so will probably leave for the airport around 430 since it takes about 45 minutes or so and traffic may be present.

I’d like to spend a longer amount of time here. I’d like to go back over to India this year. I’ve been thinking of a trip there for quite some time. I have a list of places to go there still.

Work Things

Why is work so much like work? I’m told I need to manage yet more projects. There must be some end game to all this. Do I just continue doing this until some random date in a farflung future I cannot see? I’d like to journey the world with no strings attached. But I think I need to work. Work, work, work. Its not that I hate work. I like where I work; what I do. The people I work with are decent types. Its just my atoms and molecules start jerking around. I want more than just this.

I still think about what I’d do next. What passion would I find which would incite me, excite me. Technology seems sometimes like some tawdry mistress which cannot get me to an orgasmic state in its fits and starts. I like building things, seeing software solve problems. Watch how open source empowers people. I think there is some cosmic fit between Linux and non-profits. The non-profits could utilize sets of free/open tools which would give them more control and power over their environments (social, physical, technological). Do they see it? I think so. In the present day of lessening funding, more restrictions, higher expenses for the Windows platform tools; I’m curious if the non-profits would find a use for open source in a more fundamental way. Perhaps a collective that would unite non-profits with open source developers that would be there to solve problems, make things happen, change how software works. I’ve had this dream of where both meet for a long time.

Question is: Is there a company around it?

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Filed under Current Events, Ideas

My Friend Ned

This post actually goes back to another company, in another solar system, in a galaxy far far away. This galaxy was filled with KP startup money, a lot of Linux and open source creds, and a little strategic line of business that “could”. Back then at Linuxcare, I came on as the second real employee after the three founders. I first did support for Linux there but after some months moved to building a new line of business which was P and L oriented called Linuxcare Labs. If you carefully search on google images you can find pictures of us at a show in North Carolina.

Anyways, the idea about the lab was to build industry standard certification approaches for major OEMs, software, and integration vendors. I built the lab from a state of nothingness into something and then back to nothingness when LXCR changed its focus. I needed a person though which would be there for me through thick and thin. Someone with impeccable Linux credentials that could write their around BASH shell scripts, deal with customers like Dell and IBM, and also be critical in their thinking. Enter Ned Bass. Ned fulfilled the requirements to a tee and did even more. At critical moments, I needed to be on the road after signing a major deal with Dell Computers to certify 54 different product lines on 4 Linux distributions. This meant hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for us and it also built our credibility with yet other customers and paved the way to new deals with HP and IBM. 

The job was a lot of fun folks. New hardware, working with some really cool and knowledgeable hardware types in Round Rock, dealing with program and marketing managers at the different lines of business. My friend Sean Castagna (can’t stand ya) and I traveled continuously to Dell for meetings. We had a number of memorable evenings there drinking too much beer, eating too much BBQ, and preparing for meetings with Dell.

But Ned was the mainstay. He was the foundation of the lab and was sturdy, in command, and ready to excel at a moment’s notice.

I bring all this up because Ned at 36 years of age had a heart attack. This is notable and should be a positive thing for you 2 or 3 readers out there. This can happen to anyone folks. Take care of yourselves. If the Doctor says you have high blood pressure which leads to strokes, high cholesterol which leads to other bad things, are hypertensive; take note. Do the steps. Take the medication. Lower the weight. Thank goodness we sitll have Ned with us.  Here’s to you Ned!

Heed the warnings though. Be agile in your life. Do it for yourself. 

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Travel Mode

I go back into Travel Mode in a few days. Going out to Saint Louis for three days or so. Not quite like the trips of yore where I would be gone 3 months or sometimes 2 weeks depending on need. Getting away from here carries a sweet reprieve to senses, thoughts, desires, feelings though. I have a few walking tours planned around historic Saint Louis wiht camera intact. More photographs of a place I have never been to. I’ll walk on Thursday after work and end up back at the hotel I am staying at.

I fly out Wednesday at 12pm from SFO after my usual morning supershuttle ride to the airport. Since I don’t travel with checked baggage, I head right to security and get through that. Next step may be the red carpet club for some time away from the airport hub and bub. Wednesday night I get in to the Hilton Downtown for my few nights. I’ll be working at a hosting company Thursday and Friday and then turn around and fly home Friday evening. Most likely ride BART back home.

I get to hone my blogging skills next few days on mornings leaving and nights arriving! Yippee!

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What Happens After

I’ve been wondering this perhaps more of late. As a job field gets more “lived in”; I always seem to start considering the road before me.

 

Seem to have a few directions in front of me. To the left could be thunder and lightning. Is that where the technology mistress takes me? Unsure. To the right could be sunshine and all clear. But when have I wanted to just take the easy road? I’ve chosen the road harder to walk down a few times. Weathered the storms and found that the sun is brighter, air is sweeter, times are in more clarity after that storm. On the other hand, the path leading to sunny days means an easy journey and perhaps I don’t really want the challenge.

I have been feeling I am at a crossroads though of late. Perhaps the technology for technology sake is taking its toll. I talked with an old friend last night about the changes we all face up to or ignore. He traveled beyond technology. He was a software developer at one time and wrote some pretty cool stuff. He seemed to have a clear journey. He gave it all up. Now he uses computers but as a user only. His passion is a simpler and kinder job which takes him outdoors every single day.

I could see that. Back in the past days, I was outdoors. Every single day almost when practicing and living archeology, I was outdoors. I camped under starry evenings, held my own in the desert winds, and journeyed on.

The current job challenges me and I’m so glad to have it. But no endeavor is a final destination. I have this path which is funded by the work I do now. I think my future is in India. At some point, something will happen to crank it into clear sight. I’ll live and work there doing something. A friend asked why in the world I would want to do that? He personally cannot see the attraction. Well its the people and the place and where I think the new challenges are. If I blend technology into other spheres, its China, India, and other places which will hold the fascination.

Some things I am thankful for. I’m thankful to the entire team where I work now. Its been a good thing and continues. I’m definitely glad to be gone from Celestix. I don’t think I’d enjoy it much there now. Whatever fun and excitement there was has eroded away. Most of all, now I’m glad I understand what happened here, what I need to do about my own eroding family conditions, and that its okay. What I really need is myself. I don’t need a lifetime companion. I have myself. And often that’s plenty. Its how we’re born and most likely how we depart. We can be religious, social, philosophical. But in the end we have what we have. Anything beyond our grasp is not reachable unless you extend your hand.

You gonna do that?

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