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...California State University Stanislaus

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  • Matthew Helmke: Open Source Resources Sale

    I don’t usually post sales links, but this sale by InformIT involves my two Ubuntu books along with several others that I know my friends in the open source world would be interested in.

    Save 40% on recommend titles in the InformIT OpenSource Resource Center. The sale ends August 8th.



  • Michael Hall: Why do you contribute to open source?

    It seems a fairly common, straight forward question.  You’ve probably been asked it before. We all have reasons why we hack, why we code, why we write or draw. If you ask somebody this question, you’ll hear things like “scratching an itch” or “making something beautiful” or “learning something new”.  These are all excellent reasons for creating or improving something.  But contributing isn’t just about creating, it’s about giving that creation away. Usually giving it away for free, with no or very few strings attached.  When I ask “Why do you contribute to open source”, I’m asking why you give it away.

    takemyworkThis question is harder to answer, and the answers are often far more complex than the ones given for why people simply create something. What makes it worthwhile to spend your time, effort, and often money working on something, and then turn around and give it away? People often have different intentions or goals in mind when the contribute, from benevolent giving to a community they care about to personal pride in knowing that something they did is being used in something important or by somebody important. But when you strip away the details of the situation, these all hinge on one thing: Recognition.

    If you read books or articles about community, one consistent theme you will find in almost all of them is the importance of recognizing  the contributions that people make. In fact, if you look at a wide variety of successful communities, you would find that one common thing they all offer in exchange for contribution is recognition. It is the fuel that communities run on.  It’s what connects the contributor to their goal, both selfish and selfless. In fact, with open source, the only way a contribution can actually stolen is by now allowing that recognition to happen.  Even the most permissive licenses require attribution, something that tells everybody who made it.

    Now let’s flip that question around:  Why do people contribute to your project? If their contribution hinges on recognition, are you prepared to give it?  I don’t mean your intent, I’ll assume that you want to recognize contributions, I mean do you have the processes and people in place to give it?

    We’ve gotten very good about building tools to make contribution easier, faster, and more efficient, often by removing the human bottlenecks from the process.  But human recognition is still what matters most.  Silently merging someone’s patch or branch, even if their name is in the commit log, isn’t the same as thanking them for it yourself or posting about their contribution on social media. Letting them know you appreciate their work is important, letting other people know you appreciate it is even more important.

    If you the owner or a leader in a project with a community, you need to be aware of how recognition is flowing out just as much as how contributions are flowing in. Too often communities are successful almost by accident, because the people in them are good at making sure contributions are recognized and that people know it simply because that’s their nature. But it’s just as possible for communities to fail because the personalities involved didn’t have this natural tendency, not because of any lack of appreciation for the contributions, just a quirk of their personality. It doesn’t have to be this way, if we are aware of the importance of recognition in a community we can be deliberate in our approaches to making sure it flows freely in exchange for contributions.



  • Andrew Pollock: [tech] Going solar

    With electricity prices in Australia seeming to be only going up, and solar being surprisingly cheap, I decided it was a no-brainer to invest in a solar installation to reduce my ongoing electricity bills. It also paves the way for getting an electric car in the future. I'm also a greenie, so having some renewable energy happening gives me the warm and fuzzies.

    So today I got solar installed. I've gone for a 2 kWh system, consisting of 8 250 watt Seraphim panels (I'm not entirely sure which model) and an Aurora UNO-2.0-I-OUTD inverter.

    It was totally a case of decision fatigue when it came to shopping around. Everyone claims the particular panels they want to sell at the best. It's pretty much impossible to make a decent assessment of their claims. In the end, I went with the Seraphim panels because they scored well on the PHOTON tests. That said, I've had other solar companies tell me the PHOTON tests aren't indicative of Australian conditions. It's hard to know who to believe. In the end, I chose Seraphim because of the PHOTON test results, and they're also apparently one of the few panels that pass the Thresher test, which tests for durability.

    The harder choice was the inverter. I'm told that yield varies wildly by inverter, and narrowed it down to Aurora or SunnyBoy. Jason's got a SunnyBoy, and the appeal with it was that it supported Bluetooth for data gathering, although I don't much care for the aesthetics of it. Then I learned that there was a WiFi card coming out soon for the Aurora inverter, and that struck me as better than Bluetooth, so I went with the Aurora inverter. I discovered at the eleventh hour that the model of Aurora inverter that was going to be supplied wasn't supported by the WiFi card, but was able to switch models to the one that was. I'm glad I did, because the newer model looks really nice on the wall.

    The whole system was up at running just in time to catch the setting sun, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in action tomorrow.

    Apparently the next step is Energex has to come out to replace my analog power meter with a digital one.

    I'm grateful that I was able to get Body Corporate approval to use some of the roof. Being on the top floor helped make the installation more feasible too, I think.



  • Serge Hallyn: rsync.net feature: subuids

    The problem: Some time ago, I had a server “in the wild” from which I
    wanted some data backed up to my rsync.net account. I didn’t want to
    put sensitive credentials on this server in case it got compromised.

    The awesome admins at rsync.net pointed out their subuid feature. For
    no extra charge, they’ll give you another uid, which can have its own
    ssh keys, whose home directory is symbolically linked under your main
    uid’s home directory. So the server can rsync backups to the subuid,
    and if it is compromised, attackers cannot get at any info which didn’t
    originate from that server anyway.

    Very nice.




  • Mattia Migliorini: Going multilingual: welcome Italian!

    Those of you who follow this blog since some time know for sure that the preferred language is English (a little number of posts in the early stages are an exception). Things are changing though.

    It’s not that difficult to understand: if you go on it.deshack.net you can see this website in Italian. I’ve been thinking about giving a big change to this little place in the web for a while, as I want it to become more than a simple blog. I am working on a new theme for business websites, but I’ll let you know when it’s time. In the mean time, don’t be amazed if you see some small changes here.

    Note

    The main language will remain the English. You will find all the Italian content on it.deshack.net, as said before. Old posts will be translated only if someone asks.

    Now it’s time for me to ask something to you: do you think this is an interesting change? Let me know with a comment!