Recent blog entries for Rich

BAHA, five years on.

Five years ago, my beloved encouraged me to get a BAHA - Bone Attached Hearing Aid. It's a device that's implanted in my skull which bypasses the usual hearing apparatus and carries sound vibrations directly to the middle ear.

It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that this tiny device has prrofoundly changed my life.

I've always been an introvert, and social situations make me uncomfortable ... but I say that based on all of those years avoiding them because my deafness made them so very awkward. The elaborate dance of positioning myself correctly relative to speakers so that I could hear out of my right ear, hurrying to be the first to be seated at a dinner so that I can grab the left-most seat, and avoiding multi-speaker conversations because I'm bound to miss most of it, has been going on since I was 12, and it's hard to remember how things were before that.

While I still can't tolerate super-loud settings - which makes most conference social events something of a chore, endured for the all-important networking - the Baha has changed normal conversation from a painful ordeal, preferably to be avoided, into something more normal and routine, where I can, for the most part, understand what is being said, the first time, without needing several increasingly embarrassing repetitions.

There are still scenarios where it's hard to hear. The very loud places, as mentioned above, for one. Also, conversations with many speakers tend to be difficult, but apparently the latest model of Cochlear's product has intelligent selective filtering, as well as noise reduction stuff in it, and perhaps I can upgrade some day for an even better experience.

Being able to hear has made me more confident, more sure of my opinions, more assertive in meetings, and less irritable with soft-spoken people. And far less awkward in social settings.

And I can sit anywhere I want at dinner.

Syndicated 2014-07-10 14:29:41 from Notes In The Margin

RDO on CentOS 7

With CentOS 7 now available, I quickly put it on my OpenStack demo laptop, and started installing RDO. It mostly just worked, but there were a few roadblocks to circumvent.

As usual, I followed the RDO Quickstart, so I won't duplicate those steps here, in detail, but it goes like:

sudo yum update -y && sudo yum install -y http://rdo.fedorapeople.org/rdo-release.rpm && sudo yum install -y openstack-packstack && packstack --allinone

Comparison of string with 7 failed

The first problem occurs pretty quickly, in prescript.pp, with the following error message:

Comparison of String with 7 failed

This is due to the change in CentOS versioning scheme - the latest release of CentOS is version 7.0.1406, which is not a number. The script in question assumes that the version number is a number, and does a numerical comparison:

if $::operatingsystem in $el_releases and $::operatingsystemrelease 7 { ...

This fails, because $::operatingsystemrelease is a string, not a number.

The solution here is to edit the file /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/packstack/puppet/templates/prescript.pp and replace the variable $::operatingsystemrelease with $::operatingsystemmajrelease on line 15.

See https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1117035 for more detail, and to track when this is fixed.

mysql vs mariadb

The second problem, I'm not sure I understand just yet. The symptom is that mysql.pp fails with

Error: Could not enable mysqld:

To skip to the end of the story, this appears to be related to the switch from mysql to mariadb about a year ago, finally catching up with CentOS. The related bug is at https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=981116

The workaround that I used was:

# rm /usr/lib/systemd/system/mysqld.service 
# cp /usr/lib/systemd/system/mariadb.service /usr/lib/systemd/system/mysqld.service
# systemctl stop mariadb
# pkill mysql
# rm -f /var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock

Then run packstack again with the generated answer file from the last time.

However, elsewhere in the thread, we were assured that this shouldn't be necessary, so YMMV. See https://www.redhat.com/archives/rdo-list/2014-July/msg00055.html for further discussion.

That's all, folks

After those two workarounds, packstack completed successfully, and I have a working allinone install.

Hope this was helpful to someone.

Syndicated 2014-07-10 13:31:54 (Updated 2014-07-10 13:57:33) from Notes In The Margin

Red Hat at the OpenStack Summit

A few weeks ago I was at the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, and I spoke with several Red Hat engineers about their work on OpenStack. Here's a few of those conversations when I actually had the microphone running.

Listen to it HERE, or subscribe to my podcast to listen to it in your favorite podcast app.

Syndicated 2014-06-13 19:58:40 from Notes In The Margin

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

I just got done reading Ready Player One by @erniecline, which was recommended to me by @smerrill.

In a word, wow.

In more than a word, this was a great read, full of nostalgia, awesome geek humor, clever puzzles, and a ripping great story.

I finished reading OtherLand, by Tad Williams just a few weeks ago, and their interpretations of what VR/CyberSpace look like are very similar - perhaps because it's what it'll end up looking like some day. But their storytelling is very, very different.

@erniecline's view of what the world will be in just a few short years is pretty chilling - again, because it seems so likely.

Recommended. Buy it here.

Syndicated 2014-06-13 15:09:48 from Notes In The Margin

Open Help Conference this weekend

This weekend I'll be speaking at the Open Help Conference in Cincinnati about writing a better manual. I've given this talk before at various places, but this time it's completely rewritten and reorganized, so I hope a few of you might turn out for this. There will also be other great content on the 14th and 15th, and on the 16th - 18th there will be team documentation sprints.

Syndicated 2014-06-09 21:23:14 from Notes In The Margin

Blocking comment spam with mod_security

I've mentioned before that I use mod_security to (partially) prevent comment spam on this site. The trouble with spam is that it evolves, so it's a constant arms race.

I've noticed in the last few months that the spam on this site typically has a URL as the comment name. There's also a URL field in the comment form, with a note on it that you shouldn't fill it out. Then, in httpd.conf, I have the following.

SecDataDir /tmp
SecTmpDir /tmp
SecRequestBodyAccess On
SecDefaultAction log,deny,status:406,capture,phase:2,t:lowercase

# Reject comments where the name contains a URL
SecRule ARGS:comment_name "https?:\/\/"

# Also, reject comments where the url field contains a URL
SecRule ARGS:comment_url "https?:\/\/"

Note that that config is specific to the Habari blogging platform. You'd need to tweak the names of the fields (comment_name and comment_url) for whatever blogging platform you're using.

I haven't had any spam since putting this in place, but I've had several legitimate comments that, ordinarily, would probably have gotten lost in the noise of moderating hundreds of spam messages.

I don't believe for a moment that this is a permanent solution, but it at least stems the flood for a moment so I can catch my breath.

I also have a bunch of legacy rules, like:

SecRule ARGS "(zoloft|acyclovir|zithromax)" "msg:'Pharm spam'"

(which, ironically, prevented me publishing this article until I disabled it!) but those require constant maintenance as the spam trends shift from week to week.

Syndicated 2014-06-06 19:27:28 from Notes In The Margin

OpenStack User Survey (Juno Summit)

Last month at the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta, the highly-anticipated OpenStack user survey results were released. For reasons of respondent anonymity, the raw data of the survey will not be released, but rather just a summary of the numbers. Even with that, the new numbers are very interesting.

It should be noted that the results of any survey like this have to be understood in the light of the respondent sample set. People answering this survey are those who are somewhat engaged with the OpenStack Foundation, and (obviously) aware that there even is a survey. When software is available freely, like OpenStack, there is simply no effective way to contact everyone that's using it, so we're necessarily seeing only a small percentage of the total population, and have to hope that it's a representative percentage. There's also a lot of marketing of the survey in the various "camps" in the OpenStack ecosystem, trying to get people to fill out the survey. Here, too, we have to hope that this is roughly fairly distributed, and does not itself skew the results.

That said ...

The results of the survey are here: http://www.slideshare.net/ryan-lane/openstack-atlanta-user-survey

As the RDO community guy, of course my initial interest was in the distribution of deployment OS platform, as well as the deployment tools.

Let's start with OS.

Note that since the survey combines paid and non-paid Ubuntu, it seems reasonable to combine CentOS and RHEL deployments. I'm sure that there won't be universal agreement that that's the right thing to do. So be it.

Compare these to the numbers six months ago:

We're not comparing apples to apples here, but here's a graph of all the combined deployments across the categories, in the 2014 survey:

Several interesting conclusions that I draw from these numbers. Although, again, we're not comparing apples to apples, so I'm sure that other folks will interpret differently.

Overall, the Ubuntu to RHEL/CentOS split moved from 55/34 to 47/39, indicating, overall, a movement away from Ubuntu towards CentOS and RHEL as the preferred platform for OpenStack deployments.

More interesting, looking at the breakdown into poc/dev/prod categories, there's an even stronger motion towards CentOS (and RHEL) as a preferred platform for *new* deployments. Looking at the versions deployed in production, it's clear that once folks have something deployed, they leave it alone, with a pretty high number of people running versions that are as far back as Essex, Diablo, or even earlier.

On the deployment tool side, I think that the question could stand to be clarified. I wonder, of the people who indicate that they are using Puppet or Chef to do their deployment, whether they're using another tool such as crowbar or packstack to run those tools, for example, or if they're actually writing their own Puppet/Chef scripts. I would also have expected, just anecdotaly based on various conversations, to see devstack much further out in front. Perhaps I'm just talking to a rather unrepresentative group - which is, of course, why surveys like this are so useful.

Also of great interest to me is the distribution of industries. I need to do more work on comparing the numbers side-by-side, but the academic sector (the #2 industry) has grown against the previous survey, from 11 to 13%, and some other industries have also grown a little. The fact that IT is still far and away the largest consumer of this stuff seems to confirm everyone's impression that we're still very early days in this stuff, and the more we see it grow in non-IT industries, the more we'll know that it's here to stay. (It also seems likely to me that people outside of the IT sector are unaware that there's even a survey to fill out.) So that's something to keep watching in the next time around.

Syndicated 2014-06-05 12:26:24 (Updated 2014-06-05 14:00:13) from Notes In The Margin

Testing autotweet from IFTTT

This is a test. Don't mind me.

Syndicated 2014-05-21 23:14:39 from Notes In The Margin

LinuxCon Japan day 1

I started off LinuxCon Japan day 1 with a bang by delivering my very first conference keynote ever, in which I described how the Apache Software Foundation operates, and how it differs from some other foundations. I have't been this nervous giving a talk in almost 15 years. The audience was amazingly attentive - I'm used to 2/3 of an audience looking at a laptop screen while I speak, and there were only a handful of them in this talk - most of them foreigners. Japanese audiences are incredibly courteous.

II attended several talks during the day, and met a lot of fascinating people.

At lunch, I went to the soba restaurant that's in the Chinzanso garden. It was A Maze Ing. Wow. Delicious, while also being all new to me. I'm a sucker for a new experience, and the food was just so great.

At lunch we discussed ApacheCon Europe. (By the way, the CFP for ACEU is still open. Submit now. Avoid the inevitable last minute rush.) We've got some great keynotes lined up, and we're investigating some others. I got a tentative yes from someone very cool yesterday. I'm so excited.

In the evening, there was "VIP" event, where I ended up at a table with several french people, one of whom is the E.D. of the Open Daylight Foundation. He was talking about, among other things, their sponsorship/membership program, and helping companies understand the value of sponsoring OpenDaylight. It was a truly fascinating and eye-opening conversation. I'm looking forward to more conversations with Neela in the coming months.

By the time the party started to wind down, I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, and went to bed. The 11 hour time difference between here and home is very hard to adjust to.

On the whole, I am very glad I came. Although being away from home two weeks in a row is pretty awful, this is an event I wouldn't have wanted to miss. LF always puts on a great show, and everything about this venue is wonderful.

Syndicated 2014-05-21 22:57:39 from Notes In The Margin

LinuxCon Japan day 0

My flight out of Lexington was delayed an hour and a half, resulting in a very tight connection in Chicago. I ran from gate to gate, and arrived as they were sounding the gate closing alarm. And a gate agent said that she thought I shouldn't go, because my passport expires in September, and they're not going to let me through immigration. (Turned out to not be a problem at all.)

But I made it on board - last one through the gate door - and had a pleasant flight to Narita. I arrived at Narita at about 5pm, and went to buy train tickets.

First challenge was getting cash. My debit card doesn't have a chip in it, which is how cards work everywhere in the world other than the US, so the ATM said it wasn't a valid card. Fortunately, the other ATM accepted it, and I was able to buy train tickets.

I took the train to Nipponi, and then changed trains there to go to Mejiro, without incident. People were very helpful in telling me how to get where I needed to go, and my worry was for nothing. The train was cheap ($12 and $1.50 for the two trips) and the taxi from the train station to the hotel was cheap ($15) and fast, too. I expected the trains to be packed, but they were spacious and incredibly quiet. Apparently it's rude to speak on the train - or at least to speak loudly.

The airport was really quiet, too. The noise level in public spaces is really surprising - soooo quiet.

I arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm, and it is beautiful. It's easily the most beautiful conference venue I've ever been at, and probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at. Check out the photos at http://www.hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.com/

My photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rbowen/sets/72157644738464202/
Conference website: http://events.linuxfoundation.org/events/linuxcon-japan/
Hotel website: http://www.hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.com/

Syndicated 2014-05-20 02:46:37 from Notes In The Margin

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