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Sat, 13 Aug 2005
Women, women, everywhere

One reason that I wanted write (an as yet unfinished) additional piece on the topic of women in open source, is that in our own family, there has been a confluence around the topic of women in distributed communities: BlogHer took place a few days before OSCON officially started, and one of the last sessions at OSCON was on women in open source.

So in an effort to cross pollinate, here's Julie's summary post on her experience of BlogHer.

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Tue, 28 Dec 2004
Sanjiva Weerawarana reports on Tsunami relief efforts in Sri Lanka

For those of you that don't read Planet Apache, Sanjiva Weerawarana is an Apache Software Foundation member who lives in Sri Lanka. He an his family survived the tsunami, and now he is trying to get involved with the relief efforts in Sri Lanka. Here's his report of his first day.

(in his reports LSF stands for the Lanka Software Foundation, an open source foundation that Sanjiva helped to start)

If you want to help tsunamihelp.blogspot.com (among others) is aggregating relief info.

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Sun, 08 Aug 2004
A replacement for Alvin
[ via Yahoo News ]

The Associated Press is reporting that the NSF is building a replacement for Alvin, the famed US Navy research submersible operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Alvin played a pretty large role in my childhood - somehow I learned about it, I don't remember how anymore. After we moved to Pennsylvania, my brother and I took some of the large dish pack and wardrobe boxes from the movers and turned them into submarines. One of them, of course, was the Alvin. My interest in Alvin lead to another childhood favorite, the TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

It wasn't until I got to MIT that I connected the relationship of Alvin, WHOI, and MIT, therby tying together a few more threads of my life. I hope that the new vessel (Simon? Theodore?!!!) will have same inspirational effect on other kids -- maybe even mine...

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Wed, 16 Jun 2004
Home schoolers - is it all about manners?
Greenspun is postulating on the relationship between home schooling and manners. I have no opinion on the matter despite the fact that we are home schooling our kids and the fact that I consider good manners desirable.

Today in a quiet moment in my office I overheard Abigail talking to Julie:

Momma, can we study Spanish each day too?
I hope that one effect of home schooling is to preserve my (almost) 6 year old's love of learning.
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Sat, 24 Apr 2004
Fame and fortune not required
This morning I (along with many others, I'm sure) read a front page article about Pat Tillman's death while serving his country in Afghanistan. I was reading the article over breakfast, and Abigail, young newshound that she is, asked me what it was about. From the look on her face, I could see that the explanation I gave didn't quite connect with her ability to understand. What I wanted to say to her was: I hope you'll be like this man when you grow up. A person who realized that life is more than just fame and fortune, and who was brave enough and selfless to to do something about it, even when he held fame and fortune in his hand. A person who thought more about others (his country) than she did about herself. Lately, the American way seems to be much more about fame, fortune and self, and less about humility, sacrifice, or service, which makes the loss of Tillman and every other soldier all the more dear.
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Tue, 20 Apr 2004
Scoble on persuasion
Scoble has written a really good piece on persuasion. If you haven' t already read it, you should go over and do that. As I finished the piece and thought about it, I realized that to persuade me, you need a pair of qualities.

First, you need to have honesty: [via m-w.com]

a: a fairness and straightforwardness of conduct b : adherence to the facts
Without honesty, you cannot have trust, and without trust, your ability to persuade is limited. Saying your product can do something it can't is fundamentally dishonest. Admitting that your product has weaknesses as well as strengths is honesty in action.

Second, you need to have humility [again, via m-w.com]:

not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
I'm not talking about being a doormat here. But when Scoble talked about the
"our product/idea/meme/service/etc is the best and the rest are crap" point of view
that's not humility that he's seeing. That's arrogance, and it's very off putting. The ability to admit your limitations as a person, and as a company are signs of humility.

Honesty and humility are the foundation for persuasion. After you have these two, you can add passion, excitement, and the willingness to go an extra mile. If you can do these things you'll persuade me. I'm willing to pay a bit more money to deal with individuals and companies that can learn to treat me this way. Not only will you persuade me to buy your product, but you'll make me a customer for life.

And of course, remember that you can persuade both for and against. Intuit persuaded me against their entire product line with the TurboTax DRM situation last year. They persuaded me not to buy TurboTax last year. And they lost a customer for life.

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Thu, 15 Apr 2004
In honor of Tax day
Back when we lived on the East Coast, we had a friend who though that people would pay more attention to the issue of taxes if they actually had to write a check for the amount of their taxes every month instead of having them autodeducted from their paychecks. I think of him every year on this particular day.

We even had an income tax digression at the Bainbridge Island Geeks meeting...

At least TaxCut got our taxes to Uncle Sam on time.

[00:26] | [society] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Wed, 31 Mar 2004
School is bad preparation for success?
David Brook's New York Times opinion piece Stressed for Success? (free registration required) is a good angle on what's wrong with education in America. Brooks is writing to high school seniors who are awaiting the moment of joy (or doom) of college acceptance (rejection). It was hard to pick just one part of the editorial to except (and I don't feel right block quoting the whole thing), but here's the quote that stuck out to me the most.
More than anything else, colleges are taking a hard look at your grades. To achieve that marvelous G.P.A., you will have had to demonstrate excellence across a broad range of subjects: math, science, English, languages etc.

This will never be necessary again. Once you reach adulthood, the key to success will not be demonstrating teacher-pleasing competence across fields; it will be finding a few things you love, and then committing yourself passionately to them.

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Sat, 16 Aug 2003
The power grid and the moon
We were fortunate to buy a new house and to work with a builder who was willing to make reasonable changes for us if we told him in advance. I got some changes made to the wiring closet in the house that makes it easier for me to keep some server equipment in there. Assuming that it doesn't make too much noise, which it kind of does.

One of the changes that we didn't do was add a gen trans to the main electrical panel for the house. Bainbridge has been famous for power outages because trees on the island keep getting blown over and taking down lines. We've had a few outages, including one for over 12 hours, but still, not that bad. So when I saw Paul Boutin's article about home generation, I started thinking about it again.

Living on an island has only increased my awareness of how reliant we are on infrastructure. We have a bridge on the north end, so we're not totally cut off, but I'm more conscious of things like electrical, telephone, and other infrastructure since moving here. Over the years, I've heard about home fuel cells, wind machines, and other techniques for putting power back into the grid, or storing power so that you're not dependent on the grid. Given the events of this week, and 9/11, maybe now we'll look at some alternatives to our current means of generating power.

Today I saw articles on flow cells that would store power off grid as a way of balancing production and consumption. I also saw an article on collecting solar energy on the moon and then microwaving it back to Earth. This would assume that we still have the capability to get hardware to the moon and back. At the rate things are going for us in space, the Indians may be the only people who can put a man on the moon. It's been at least 25 years since we wera able to do the task.

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Tue, 12 Aug 2003
Jury duty concluded
Today concluded my jury service. I was one of six jurors deciding a civil case. The case was an automobile accident injury, with the accompanying pain and suffering damages. It's an unusual experience to be on a jury, hear all the evidence, and actually decide the case. When the trial got under way, it was a little unreal, and I felt a little like I was watching TV. But you're not watching TV. The attorneys are talking to you. The witnesses are talking to you, and the judge is talking to you. Something that surprised me was that the jurors were given the opportunity to question witnesses (via written question) once the attorneys had finished their questioning. When the defense counsel has rested his case, you are the ones that everyone is looking at to make the call.

Most of us don't regularly make decisions that have the impact that a jury decision can. It was a very uncomfortable feeling to go home over the weekend and think about whether one party or the other should be punished. Lawsuits are about justice, and not about mercy. But justice without mercy creates brittle relationships, where the only thing that matters is being "right" and having our rights fully exercised. Unfortunately, justice is the only thing that the legal system can bring to the world. But we need more than that.

Jury duty is one of those situations like serving in the Army. You randomly take people from a cross section of society, and force them to serve together in some way. At the end of our deliberations today, a fellow juror expressed thankfulness that we didn't end up with a jury power struggle. It never occurred to me that such a thing could happened with our group. We spent our waiting times (there were a lot) working on a jigsaw puzzle of a Salvador Dali painting, and getting to know each other. Today, we worked hard to render a verdict that we all thought was fair and reasonable. The experience restored some of my faith in the judicial system, our system of government, and my fellow citizens. Before I served on this jury, I had the attitude that I think many of us have, that jury duty is a pain in the rear. I know that I have a very different view after these last 4 days.

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Thu, 07 Aug 2003
Blogging curtailed by jury duty
I spent the day yesterday in the Kitsap County Superior CourtHouse in Port Orchard waiting for jury duty. Much of the time was spent sitting on the floor because that was the easiest way to get to a power outlet for the laptop. We finally made it into the courtroom at 3:15pm, and when I walked out at 5pm, I was a juror on a case. I've been challenged off juries before, but never served on one. If it weren't inconvenient in the extreme right now, I'd be fine with it. But as I drove home, I reflected that the only way for us to keep what we have in this country is for us to participate in it. I won't be blogging the trial until after its over, but if you see a reduction in posting, there's your explanation.
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Mon, 04 Aug 2003
Developing a Business Ethic
Mitch Kapor reproduced his essay from the Fortune magazine Brainstorm conference.


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Fri, 04 Jul 2003
Let the music play
This press release was issued on June 30th, but it would have been more appropriate for today:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched a "Let the Music Play" campaign urging the more than 60 million U.S. citizens who use file-sharing software to demand changes in copyright law to get artists paid and make file-sharing lega
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Sat, 28 Jun 2003
Alas vacation.
Well, we're back from our brief vacation. The Packwood area is beautiful (it was our first time), and our friends' cabin has a creek going right through the back yard. The kids loved it, Julie loved it, and I loved it. The only thing I didn't love was how short it was. As I slogged through the aggregator backlog, I came upon Russell Beattie's post on Americans and vacation.

I visited Spain last October, and I saw a lot to like, particularly in the way that Spaniards (and Europeans, by extension) use their time. I suppose being the best in the world at running ourselves into the ground is an acheivement, albeit pyrrhic.

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Mon, 19 May 2003
Americans can't handle death
Dana Blankenhorn describes former Vermont governor Howard Dean's explanation for why health care is so expensive in America. I don't know about the financial angle, but I think its certainly true that as a people we are looking to avoid not only death, but aging, which is the precursor to death.
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Fri, 16 May 2003
Geek Activism
GeekCorps is an example of Geek Activism. I'd like to hear more about GeekCorps and any other Geek activism that's going on out there.
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Public Domain Enhancement Act
If you care about art and innovation, the please visit the site for the Public Domain Enhancement Act and exercise your privilege as a citizen.
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Mon, 17 Mar 2003
Extrovert on Introverts
Elizabeth Lane Lawley gives an extrovert's take on the introvert / extrovert thing started by Jonathan Rauch's article in the The Atlantic. I found the following excerpt particularly interesting:
Over the past year, Elouise and I have had a couple of interesting “talks” about our differences in personality type. Most of the substance of these talks, however, has occurred in e-mail or IM. I didn’t give that much thought until last night, when Gerald and I were having coffee with AKMA and his wife Margaret. She was talking about how useful IM is for parents communicating with children at college—particularly when one or both tend toward introversion, since the IM process allows a slower unfolding of the conversation.

It was an illuminating moment for me. It made it clear why my friend Elouise and I have been able to have these conversations about different approaches so much more easily in electronic media. The playing field is leveled by the nature of the medium. I can’t fill all the available bandwidth with my excited ramblings—and she can carefully choose her words, making sure that what she says is exactly what she means.

I've certainly found that IM is a productive medium -- I usually prefer it to the telephone, which doesn't have that rate limiting effect.

This excerpt is giving me some food for thought about how different people handle conflicts:

When we had our first lengthy meta-conversation about these issues, it was touched off by an incident between me and a mutual friend. I'd been pushed a little too hard by this person on a bad day, and I’d behaved in a pretty characteristic (for me) way—I lashed out, and said something really hurtful. I'm not terribly proud of what I said that day, but I knew (and assumed that he would, too) that things said in the heat of the moment like that aren’t that meaningful—they’re like lancing a wound. Something nasty comes out, but then you can heal. But this friend was deeply hurt by my outburst, and his response was to shut down. No communication. Period. When I pushed back, I was told in no uncertain terms to back off.

So I told Elouise—via e-mail—how baffled I was by this reaction. With her permission, I’m going to quote from our dialog, because I think it's instructive. She told me: "What helped me keep the friendships I do have, is that in the same way you grew up forgiving and expecting verbal collisions, they forgave and understood the way I’d retreat. (Like a cat licking its wounds). I am not saying either way is particularly healthy. In a perfect world there would be no conflict…but clearly, what behavior is considered appropriate or offensive in anger are opposite."

We then went on to have a lengthy exchange about the whole "leave me alone" approach. I said that the longer I went without talking to someone after a fight or misunderstanding, the more I tended to blow things out of proportion, attribute meanings that weren’t really there, and generally create an entire (and often inaccurate) world of hurt to wallow in. She, on the other hand, said that the longer she goes without talking to someone she’s angry at, the easier it is to forget the bad and start remembering the good. Being forced to talk about the event or conflict, to her, was a lot like picking at a scar. The healing had to happen internally, with a barrier against the outside world.

But at some point, the healing has to come into the relationship. You can't go on not talking to people forever.
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Fri, 21 Feb 2003
Hey, that's me....
I know these articles have made it around the block already, but I identified quite a bit with both of them. So if you interested in understanding me, here they are (in case somehow you haven't read them already).

Caring for your Introvert

Why Nerds are Unpopular

Maybe this kind of stuff could be a Blogchalk or a geek code.

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Mon, 17 Feb 2003
Paul Graham on School
Paul Graham's latest essay, "Why Nerds are Unpopular" is really about the effects of institutional schooling. His critique is very similar (and shorter) to John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education which I've recently finished reading. Another book that is related is Alfie Kohn's Punished by Rewards. More on this one in another entry when I get some time.
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Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

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