Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
I stopped by for slice of Seattle Mind Camp 2.0 today. I mostly stopped by to see friends and take in a bit of the atomosphere. Our family has been super busy the last 4-5 weeks, so I haven't been able to help much with this Mind Camp, and I wasn't even sure that I was going to go until just a day or two ago.
The highlight of the day was a session on user-centered design, led by Beth Kolko and Emma Rose. I'm trying to get a broader exposure to folks in the design community, and it was great to meet Beth and Emma and talk to them a bit about the design process that we are trying for Chandler. Discovering and getting involved with the design community in Seattle is exactly the kind of interactions that we hoped would happen as a result of Mind Camp. I also enjoyed meeting Chris and Jenni, who are long time bloggers and recent fans of Julie.
I put up a few pictures on Flickr, but it was hard to really get geared up to work hard on the photography today.
Registration for Mind Camp 2.0 is now open. The dates are April 29 through April 30. I haven't been able to be involved much with the planning of this one, but I'm sure that it will be just as good as the last one.
Last weekend I walked through San Francisco's Chinatown and ran into celebrations in preparation for Chinese New Year. Today, I went down to Bainbridge Island's (first) Chinese New Year celebration. Two of the girls are sick, so I ended up going alone. Although it was quite wet, I did manage to take some pictures.
Tonight we had our debrief of the Seattle Mind Camp event. The meeting was delayed due to the XBox 360 launch and Thanksgiving. One piece of news is that some folks made a cool movie about the Mind Camp experience. You can get to it via this post on the Mind Camp blog. You'll need VLC or some other player that can do XViD.
Where to start?
A big thanks for everyone who took time out of their schedule to come this weekend. These sorts of events depend entirely on the people who attend, so if it was good (and I think it was), then the credit goes to all those who showed up and participated.
I was pleased to see a number of people from Bainbridge Island, including some folks that I was unaware of. Steve Sivits, Michael Gerlek, and Todd Blanchard also made the trip. I had never met Steve or Todd before, and its great to discover more people on the island.
A number of folks are posting their reactions to the event, and much of has been positive. The thing that is most important to me is that during the closing session/wrap-up, I heard a lot of people say that they had met cool and interesting people. The reason that I got involved with Seattle Mind Camp was because I wanted to see technology people in the Puget Sound get connected to each other. One of the things that I miss about Silicon Valley is the sense of connectedness, which seems to facilitate people knowing who's doing what, and which is a facilitator of a culture of innovation. I wanted Mind Camp to be something that would contribute in some small way to improving that sense of connectedness, so nothing could have pleased me more than to hear that people met other cool people that they were unaware of. Of course, it would be great if several years from now you could point to a project or company that got started because of Mind Camp, but we'll have to wait several years to see if that happens.
About the only real problem that we had was with internet access. The SeattleWireless folks tried to deploy a mesh network across all the laptops at the camp, but this turned out to be problematic, so that the network was flaky for the early part of the event. Once it was obvious that the mesh wasn't going to work, it didn't take that long to rig up an more conventional network (which still used the mesh to connect the access points -- the problem turns out to be a bad interaction between the mesh network, mobile clients, and Window's wireless networking support). Unfortunately, we discovered on Friday that there was much less bandwidth coming into the building that we expected, and by that time, it was too late to fix that problem. That was not SeattleWireless's fault at all. During the wrapup, several organizations volunteered to make sure that we never have this sort of (backhaul) problem again.
I actually didn't even open my computer until a few hours before my session, and I didn't bother to try to blog something while the event was going on. After all, if I came meet people, why spend the time with my nose buried in e-mail, etc. I didn't even get the pictures out of my camera until tonight.
While we were waiting to get started, I met Scott Laird, and Eric Sooros (who I had met previously), both of whom are camera geeks. Acutally, I would put Scott in the major camera geek category, due to the L series lens and the external flash. Both of the had apparently read my post about the nifty 50, and immediately offered to let me try out lenses from their arsenals. Unfortunately, I got so engrossed in other things that photography took a back seat, so I never actually took them up on it. But I loved it that these guys were so willing to let a relative strange bolt several hundred dollars worth of glass onto his camera. Very much in the spirit of the weekend. I did post some more photos to my Flickr photo set for Mind Camp 1.0.
Here's a brief run down of things that I did, some on the program, some off.
I attended a discussion on women in computing -- the session title might have said technology but Liz Lawley pointed out that computing is the only field in which female enrollments are declining as opposed to increasing. It's been interesting to hear these discussions in different contexts, with different participants. Apparently I missed out on really good session on Engelbart style augumentation.
I attended pieces of Julie's talk -- Elisabeth and I were in and out of the room several times, but as far as I could tell people resonated with the issues that she raised. We may even have found someone who can help make a full multimedia version of the presentation available.
Information overflow was a big theme. There were two (unwittingly, I think) competing sessions, one explicitly on information overload, and another, led by Liz Lawley on the difference between information networks and social networks. I never really considered that these two might be different, and I'm still not quite sure that I think that they are, but there was a lively discussion. If nothing else, the discussion reinforced for me that it's all about trust when it comes to information flow/networks/attention. And for me, that's one reason why blogs that have a personal, not only professional voice, will continue to be important. It's hard for me to really develop trust without a sense of a person. One other surprise for me was the amount of consensus that something like My Yahoo will become the predominant method of getting information via RSS. The argument was that it's easier to get someone to use a new webapp than it is to get them to download and install a new app. More pondering.
Julie and I took a break in the middle of the afternoon to build some howtoons derived marshmellow shooters. Early Saturday I took a sidetrip to the Home Depot in Tukwila to get the materials. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that the T-Joints that I got we threaded in the shaft, which made it much harder (but not impossible) to get the things working.
My session on Chandler turned into what I can only call the worst demo ever. I had intended to demo a recent version of Chandler including read/write calendar sharing, timezone support, and a few other things, but moments after I plugged the machine into the project, it froze up solid. Waiting for a machine to reboot when you are supposed to be demoing seems like an eternity. I was able to get through most of my demo, but I couldn't get the sharing part of the demo to work, despite the fact that I carefully tested it out before at home. With all the hitches, I didn't have time to go through the slides that I had prepared that discussed some of where we are trying to go. Mercifully, not that many people left, and people had lots of questions about the software, the process, and more. But boy, did that smart.
Apologies to Andy Edmonds for falling asleep during the attention.xml session. Highly ironic. By the time this session rolled around, my body had reached its limits, and Andy happened to be the one in the fatal timeslot. Fortunately, a summary of the session made it onto the Mind Camp wiki.
Shelley Farnum, formerly of Microsoft Research had a fascinating session on her experiences with Groove during the aftermath of Katrina. Shelley accompanied someone from the Groove team to help anyone who wanted use Groove to facilitate Katrina recovery operations. There were lots of interesting observations both about recovery operations and about software/technology in this context. Nancy White mentioned that this session went on till 1AM (after starting at 10pm). Sadly for me, I had to leave to go to another session.
And what was so all fired important that it was worth missing the disaster recovery for? Well, sitting down with
Scott Laird, who among other things, is a contributor to Typo, a Ruby on Rails based blogging system. I learned quite a bit about Type, but I also learned some interesting things about Rails and about the Ruby community.
I've long been an admirer of Avi Bryant's work, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to meet him this weekend. Avi and I sat down and he gave me a demonstration of Dabble, which is a very cool web based database app. The data modelling capabilities of Dabble look spiritually similar to what we are trying to do in the repository for Chandler. Avi also gave me a very nice demo of Seaside, a continuation based web framework for Smalltalk. Other useful things that I learned about Avi: he's from Vancouver, not very far away, he plays mean harmonica, and the he did hack some Ruby for a while.
Preventing me from getting to bed last night (of my own free will) were Brian Rice, his security geek friend Paul (whose last name I forgot), my friend Sarah, Eric Butler, and one more person whose name I never got. It all started innocently enough, when I wandered over to a conversation where I had overheard the worlds "Lisp Machine". From there on out it was downhill. Lisp, Squeak, Slate, and more, culminating in a full bore "let me show you why Squeak is cool" demo that lasted till 3am, which is when my body gave out the second time and I went to sleep.
Sunday morning I went to Todd Blanchard's presentation on Objective CLIPS, which is a clever job of gluing together CLIPS, F-Script, and Core Data. It was an eerie experience watching all the CLIPS rules firing while Todd manipulated the GUI. Just more evidence that everything that was old is new again. At least here, there are no wheels being re-invented. Todd also brought a copy of the book that he recommended to Julie. Lots of Squeak going on this weekend.
I was sitting on the floor using the power outlet, minding my own business, when I overheard the words Blue like Jazz in a conversation between Justin Martenstein and Bryan Zug. Having read the book, I invited myself into their conversation, which turned a bunch of interesting dimensions. I'm looking forward to unpacking some of those in the coming weeks.
Eventually, we wound up with a few more people and the beginnings of an impromptu post-mortem of Mind Camp, which was good preparation for the scheduled one at 11AM. Brief (and I think) incomplete notes on the wiki. I heard two big themes (as well as several smaller ones) during the feedback. The first was that we could have done a better job of communications, in terms of setting expectations for people. A lot of people said they had no idea what to expect, several people said I wish I knew that we could bring XXX gadgets, and some people thought that we were focusing on the blogging/Web 2.0 space. The second theme was that people want to get together and actually make stuff, whether that's software, hardware or whatever.
Since I've been somewhat vocal, a number of people asked if Mind Camp turned out the way I wanted or or met my expectations. It easily did, even with the caveat of it being the first time and so forth. The most important thing isn't what I think, but whether or not people get more connected as a result of what happened this weekend.
I just got back from helping to set up for Mind Camp 1.0. I'd never been to the space before and it is huge! We'll have plenty of space for whatever people want to do. I've put up a few pictures in this Flickr photoset, and I'll be posting more, including (I hope) some shots from my new "nifty 50", the cheap but good Canon 50mm f1.8 lens.
For those of you tag searchers, the "official tag" is mindcamp1.0
There you have it - we officially have 150 people registered for Seattle Mind Camp. Registration is now closed, and we can move on the focusing on planning now that we know that the event is fillwed to capacity. It was a worry, being that this is the first even of its kind here in the Seattle area, and that I am not as well connected as some of the other Seattle locals being that I just moved here. The credit goes to everyone who talked about and blogged about the event, starting from the planners and branching out to the early attendees. This is going to be a blast.
If you are attending, please go to the Session Ideas page and add your ideas. We are looking for panels and interactive discussions as well as regular old presentations. The point of doing this is for people here in the Puget Sound to mix it up and find out what each other are up to, so keep that in mind as you think about your session.
If you're the kind of person that leaves things to the last minute, and you are interested in attending the first (we hope of many) Seattle Mind Camp, then don't wait any longer. We had a planning meeting tonight (I attended via Skype), and we are over half full.
People are starting to put ideas for sessions up on the wiki, and Andru has posted a few pictures of the awesome space. The wireless for the event is going to be done by Seattle Wireless, and I heard that they are really stoked to be doing this. They hope to surpass the record for the largest olsr mesh network.
Events like this are only as good as the people who come, so please register if you are interested in attending. If you are already registered, please pass the word to your friends.
For several years, I have been looking for a way for folks in the Puget Sound technology community to connect with each other. As I've gotten to know various folks in the area, I've frequently found that people are unaware of things going on in the area, and many people have expressed an interest in getting more connected. After several false starts, it looks like something is actually going to happen. A bunch of local folks have gotten together to organize the Seattle MindCamp. This is going to be a self organized conference in the vein of the O'Reilly Foo Camp or BarCamp.
The event is going to take place November 5 and 6, and admission will be free. If you want to attend, please come ready to present or lead a discussion. Andru's post has the registration information.
Yesterday Julie wrote about the tension between summertime and blogging (really all activities that can wait till winter). It's been a long summer for us, with house projects and lots of traveling to conferences and so forth. Now it seems like everyone wants to pack those last few moments of summer freedom in before they are all gone.
I do too. Yesterday I took a half day out of work to go sailing with some folks from our geek study group here on the island. One of our members spent a significant portion of his adult life building a boat, and now he is able to reap the rewards. It was very kind of him to share some of them with the rest of us. Especially the landlubbers, like me.
Rather than recount the afternoon's events, I made a photoessay in a Flickr photo set. There are a *lot* of pictures, so you might want to wait till you have time and/or a fast connection.
Here's a preview to whet your appetite:
Every year on Bainbridge Island there is a parade on the 4th of July. The island is small enough that it's a very local affair, and you are likely to see a few somebody's that you know marching across your path. This year, I tried using the parade as a photography exercise.
The full Flickr set is here. I took quite a few more shots than this, but a lot of them suffered from shutter lag problems, or my waiting just a moment too long to snap the picture. It was a good experience for me because it forced me to try to think quickly about what kind of shots I wanted to take, and the feedback from the digital camera also helped me realize the shots that I wished I had taken.
Later in the day, some friends who live on the water invited us over to watch some fireworks. They also invited a bunch of other friends, many of whom showed up loaded with fireworks. Growing up on the East Coast, there were only a few times that I saw live fireworks, and those were always professional displays. There are always a few folks in our neighborhood that like to shoot off fireworks on the 4th, but the proximity to houses puts a damper on the kinds of fireworks that you can let off. The story is totally different by the water, and many of the island's beaches are the site of amateur displays.
Inspired by some articles from Lifehacker, I set out to try and capture some of what folks were doing.
I didn't use a tripod -- not that it would have helped, since the various fireworks were going off in random parts of the sky (I never would have been able to swing the camera around fast enough to capture anything). There were quite a number of exposures that I didn't get because the camera would try to autofocus and during that delay, the burst came and went. During some of the longer bursts, I also ran into this problem. I belatedly remembered that the camera does have a continuous shooting mode, but I forgot about that while I was shooting. Besides, I was also talking to people, explaining things to the girls, and so forth, so I wasn't totally focused on just photographing the displays. The other thing that I ran into was being unable to control the shutter duration. Lack of a bulb mode made it hard to capture individual bursts. I ended up setting the camera to 1 second delay for most of the shots, and that worked for a decent number.
People who saw what I was doing asked me if I was actually able to catch the fireworks on camera. I was as surprised as they were that I actually caught bursts most of the time. There were a number of scenes of blue or black sky, but I felt lucky that I did catch a decent number of bursts.
The full set of fireworks is here.
Our family had a great time hosting the first Bainbridge Blogger's Bash. Chris, Chip, Mike, and Phillipe have the full lowdown. A few people commented on my burned arm (I no longer need the gauze bandage, so it's pretty glaring). I did the good host thing and circulated around. I amost did not recognize Dave Henry due to his beard -- it's been a while since I saw him last, but I'm looking forward to some of the stuff that he's working on.
I was particularly interested in meeting Adrian Sampson, author of iChat Auto-Reply, NIce to know that there are some other open source Mac hackers on the island, even if they are "young". It was amusing when Adrian asked if I knew his friend Sarah Gould, who also happens to be young. Sarah is part of our bi-weekly Bainbridge Island "Geeks" reading group, and I definitely know her. She wasn't able to make it, but I'm looking forward to getting both of them together into a room. Adrian, Dave, and Phillipe were engaged in interesting and philosophically oriented discussion about open source, communities and so on, which I injected a comment into as I was passing by to feed Elisabeth her dinner.
Mike brought his PSP and (accidentally) induced some depression:
At the top is Mike's PSP. At the bottom is a Newton MessagePad 2100, which I worked on while I was at Apple. I should have thought to open the lid on the Newt so that that full depression could be displayed. The difference in size and weight should be obvious. The differences in the displays, the 802.11b, and the retail price?
On the whole, it was a totally enjoyable evening.
Tonight after dinner I hopped into our van and hauled myself off to Silverdale, the no-ferry-involved shopping mecca for Bainbridge Islanders. You see, on Wednesday I postponed dinner and went to try and cut our grass, which has grown enormously tall due to a combination of some fertilizer, some unexpectedly warm spring weather, and lots of famous Pacific Northwest rain.
Ever since we've owned a home, I have used one model or another of Black and Decker cordless electric mower. We had one in San Jose that was starting to run down just as we moved up here, and when we bought our house, I decided to give the cordless mower one more try -- I wanted to do what was good for the environment. The cordless mowers are also super convenient -- there's much less maintenance involved. They are also enormously more expensive than a comparable gas powered mower, and as they get older and the batteries wear down, they have a harder and harder time cutting the grass.
I will digress at this point and mention that we have serious lawn genes in my family. Well, at least my father and brother do. The gene seems to have skipped me altogether. When I was growing up, some friends once teased me by saying "your Dad is out there cutting his lawn with tweezers". That was a slight exaggeration, but working on the lawn and yard was my Dad's hobby, and he was pretty good at it. Consequently, we had a very fine lawn growing up. Of course, it didn't hurt that we lived next to a gardening contractor either. My brother has inherited the gene from my father, so he got all the skills for dealing with a lawn (not to mention a house, a car or any other mechanical device). What I got was a good idea of what a healthy flourishing lawn looks like. That's mostly been good for guilt, because my lawn is definitely not measuring up to the family standard.
So Wednesday evening I set out to make the grass at least a presentable height (it is a beautiful color), only to discover that the Black and Decker had weakened to the point where it barely cut 1/3 of my tall lawn before the needle visited the bottom of the battery gauge's red zone. Last year I had a few instances where lawn mowing turned into a 2 evening affair because I needed a recharge in order to finish. The prospect of 3 evenings worth of cutting, combined with a bleak rain forecast, and a *very* *full* calendar finally pushed me over the edge and over to Silverdale.
Thus I found myself at Home Depot at 8pm, buying a gas powered lawnmower. The lawnmower guy at Home Depot seemed to think that most lawnmowers were good for about 5 years, unless you moved up to the self propelled Hondas that were twice as much as the mower I was looking at, not to mention overkill for the size yard that I have. The Black and Decker is 4 years old, so I suppose that's not too bad. The salesman and I had our moment of commiseration about how they don't make things the way they used to, and then I got on with the dirty deed. I've been through two of the electric mowers now. I've paid the eco-friendly price (and time) premium. But this time around, I'm going with the gas mower. Maybe in 5 years there'll be the Prius of lawn mowers. At least I didn't buy an SUV.
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