Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Insiders Guide to Education for Parents

So then there's the day job...

I don't normally blog about topics directly related to my day job. It's not for any real reason other than a habit acquired from previous jobs in industries not keen on communication outside of official channels.

I'm breaking my habit, however, to spread the word about an effort I've been involved with recently - a new blog from a thought leader in the education space.

A colleague of mine, Dr. Elanna Yalow just launched a blog called An Insiders Guide To Education For Parents. Elanna is an industry leader in education and is the mother of two children, so she brings a wealth of personal and professional expertise to her blog.

The blog is a resource for any parents wrestling with parenting issues - anything from early childhood education to online education and more. She will also be bringing in various industry experts to guest blog about the latest trends in research, wellness, work life and other areas of interest to parents.

The blog was just launched yesterday, but I couldn't wait to share the launch. I expect a regular stream of interesting articles from Elanna. I've enjoyed working on the team that formulated the blog, and hope you find the results valuable.

If you're a parent, add it to your feed reader, pass it along to other parents, and participate in the conversation.


You never know - you might even see an article or two penned by me on Elanna's blog - stay tuned.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Aloofix 0.8 (the Sleeping Parrot release) is available

Release early - release often!

Hmmm... one year since the last release.

How about: Try to release early - try to release often!

Hmmm... doesn't have the same zing, does it?

Do I at least get points for a stready stream of svn updates?

No? oh well...

At any rate, Aloofix 0.8 has just been released. It contains a considerable number of enhancements and bug fixes. You can read the summary on SourceForge. I won't bore you with them here. Just go over to sourceforge, grab a copy, and have at it.

Hopefully it won't be another year before the next release.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween, Architecture Pumpkins

Yup, my blog is a big stale. No matter. I won't bore you with some weak excuse. Rather, I'll jump right into a question that's been needling at me for a couple weeks.

So I occasionally check the site analytics for the blog. Recently, something caught my attention. One of the primary sources of traffic to my blog in the past couple weeks has been hits from Google searches for "architecture pumpkin" (or several obvious variations).

Architecture pumpkins? Pardon me?

Several Google searches later, and I still don't get it. What the heck is an architecture pumpkin?

Are you here as a result of a search hit on architecture pumpkins? Happen to know why I might be getting a notable number of visitors from this search term? Feel free to comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Who knows, the conversation might just get me back in the habit of blogging on a regular basis.

For you Enterprise/IT Architecture types - perhaps we've been completely wrong in our framing of PaaS. Perhaps I should do some analysis, and publish the results in a pie chart. Perhaps we've found some new ammunition for the trebuchet we have aimed at the Ivory Tower.

p.s. Happy Halloween

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sliding into first base

For grins, I created a slide-deck that provides an overview of Aloofix.

Beyond self entertainment, I had couple other motivations:
  • I peruse SlideShare quite a bit, but had never uploaded anything.
  • I wanted to test the latest version of OpenOffice (2.3.1).
I was horribly lazy and chose one of the canned themes provided by OpenOffice. I like the colors. They might resurface in future slides. I don't care much for the line-spacing, but was too lazy to dig into changing it.

OpenOffice continues to get better. It's still not up to par with PowerPoint. It most definitely doesn't pass the "have Kate use it" test, but it's quite workable for my purposes.

At any rate, there you go - a slide-deck for Aloofix. I knew you were dieing to get one.

On the development front, I've intentionally slowed the pace a bit. As the 1.0 TODO list gets whittled down, the focus has shifted to documentation. The current manual is a texinfo file that generates a 40 page document, but approximately 10 of those pages consist of TODO items.

Speaking of texinfo - it does seem a bit old-school, doesn't it? I've contemplated converting it to an online format. On the other hand, my workflow makes it easy to keep the documentation somewhat in sync with the code. I'd love to hear comments on this topic.

Beyond documentation, it would be nice to get a few more bug reports before moving too far forward.

Ooh - here's an interesting piece of development news: one of the mailing list members wants to help improve the toolchain. The current build recipes use a bit of a dodge, so it would be nice to improve this part of the build.

Until next time, cheers!

You would think I do enough PowerPoint at work. *sigh* Old habits die hard.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Aloofix Cinema Debut

Watch out Spielberg, there's a new genre in town!

Hmmm... maybe not.

For grins, I've created a screencast of a running instance of Aloofix.

The screencast shows an Aloofix installation consisting of the following steps:

  1. boot an Aloofix ISO in VirtualBox
  2. installation to the virtual hard drive
  3. rebooting to the hard drive
  4. running a couple of commands
  5. powering down the instance
Total elapsed time: 1 minute 30 seconds.

On the development front, I released version 0.6 last weekend. I was going to blog about, but life got ahead of me. As always, the new version is available on the SourceForge project page.

I'm now working on two primary things:
  • add-on packages
  • documentation
Version 0.6 added some important add-on packages: gnumake, gcc, and binutils. The svn trunk also contains ncurses, bash, patch, and strace. With a little luck, I hope to be able to build Aloofix in Aloofix in the not too distant future.

I'll gladly admit, it was pleasant to watch ncurses successfully compile inside a running instance of Aloofix.

Feel free to give the latest version a spin - I'm getting very close to a 1.0 release.

And no, I will not be creating a screencast of a full build.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mildly House-Trained

That's my wife's way of saying Aloofix is now in beta release.1

Early today I release Aloofix version 0.5 (the Mildly House-Trained Pup release). There's nothing earth shattering in the release - just lots of bug fixes, feature enhancements, and steady progress toward a 1.0.

But that's the boring part, and nothing worthy of a blog article.

I regularly update the TODO list while working on the code. Sometimes it seems to border on an obsession, but I find the act of scrutinizing upcoming tasks to be a form of therapy.

I add items, remove them, move things around, even use the list as a way to gather my thoughts on how to proceed with the next set of changes. I'm sure anyone reviewing the svn logs for the TODO file will chuckle at the fluid nature of the contents. I know a few project managers that would run screaming from the room.

While noodling, I noticed myself making some very notable changes to the TODO list. Suddenly, I was pushing items from the 1.0 section to the 2.0 section. Don't get me wrong - I've done this countless times as a major release approaches. It's a classic technique, where what is wanted is vetted against what is needed.

In the case of Aloofix, I had succumbed to the classic problem of having eyes bigger than my stomach. Shuffling items from the 1.0 section to the 2.0 section is my way of making sure Aloofix adheres to a 'Release Early, Release Often' principle.

Or put another way,

If you had to choose, which would you select:

  • a dog that does tricks
  • a dog that is house-trained.
Fun stuff...

Feel free to grab a copy of Aloofix 0.5 and kick the tires -it's mildly house-trained.

1. Put another way - reports of success, with no reports of catastrophe...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Build it and they will come

I know you've been waiting... Well, here you go - it's time for my weekly update on Aloofix.

In the previous update I mentioned that I had posted it to SourceForge. From initial posting through yesterday afternoon, the tarball was downloaded nine times. There's even been a couple postings to the mailing list.

Then I registered Aloofix on Freshmeat. Within the next 24 hours, I had 13 more downloads. While some might consider these modest numbers, I find the traffic utterly amazing.

I haven't decided whether to registered Aloofix on other sites. Registering it on DistroWatch seems like a good idea, but they seem uninterested in minimalist distros. Leave a comment if you any good recommendations for other sites.

I also noticed that Black Duck has added it to their list of open source packages.

As for version 0.5, I don't have a specific date in mind. Most of the work done since version 0.4 has been cleanup. I did, however, bump to linux 2.6.24 in the svn trunk. I'll probably post a new tarball if busybox releases a stable 1.9.x anytime soon. Otherwise, I'll post a new one over the next couple of weeks.