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Sridhar Dhanapalan: Twitter posts: 2014-07-14 to 2014-07-20

Planet Linux Australia - Mon 21st Jul 2014 00:07
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Lev Lafayette: Why Linux is the Future of Computing

Planet Linux Australia - Sun 20th Jul 2014 23:07

Presentation to the La Trobe Valley Linux Miniconference, Saturday July 19, 2014

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Go first

Seth Godin - Sun 20th Jul 2014 19:07
Before you're asked. Before she asks for the memo, before the customer asks for a refund, before your co-worker asks for help. Volunteer. Offer. Imagine what the other person needs, an exercise in empathy that might become a habit.         Seth Godin
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Tim Serong: The Fridge Magnets

Planet Linux Australia - Sun 20th Jul 2014 13:07

Last Thursday night was the TasLUG OpenStack 4th Birthday meetup. We had some nice nibbly food, some drinks, and four OpenStacky talks:

  • An update from the OpenStack Foundation (presented by me, with slides provided by the Foundation).
  • A talk about the NeCTAR cloud and using the command line tools to work with images, by Scott Bragg.
  • A talk on spinning up instances with Nova and Heat, by Stewart Wilde.
  • A talk by me on Ceph, and how it can be used as the storage backend for an OpenStack cloud.

We also had some posters, stickers and fridge magnets made up. The fridge magnets were remarkably popular. If you weren’t at TasLUG last night, and you want a fridge magnet, first download this image (the full-res one linked to, not the inline one):

Then, go to Vistaprint and place an order for Magnetic Business Cards, using this image. You can get 25 done for about $10, plus shipping.

Finally, I would like to publicly thank the OpenStack Foundation for supporting this event.

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Two new videos

Seth Godin - Sun 20th Jul 2014 03:07
No content online is 'rare', but here are two presentations you might not have seen before: ...from the Maker Faire, and here's a speech I did last year at Nearly Impossible in Brooklyn: Seth Godin | Nearly Impossible 2013 from...         Seth Godin
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Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 168: Homeward bound

Planet Linux Australia - Sat 19th Jul 2014 21:07

It's all a bit hazy now, but I think Zoe slept all night and woke up a bit early and came down to my room. Graydon appeared not long after. I made us all breakfast and then got stuck into packing.

After we were all packed up, and Zoe and Graydon had played a bit, Neal took us to REI and Best Buy to do a spot of shopping, and then dropped us at Hertz to pick up the rental car.

After lunch, we packed up the car and headed on our way to Dallas.

The drive went really well. I'd rented some sort of Chevy SUV, and it had a nice interior, and the car radio supported Pandora and had a big display. I stuck Zoe's car seat in the middle, and she was happy being able to see out the front and also see the cover art for what Pandora was dishing up. As I hoped, she napped for a couple of hours on the way up.

The drive took about three and a half hours, and I'd wanted to stop for a break along the way, but missed the exit for the only decent looking rest stop, so pressed on.

We made it to the airport with a comfortable margin of time, and had enough time for dinner. The highlight of the evening was hearing Kim Kardashian get paged twice. Everyone looked at each other and wondered if it was that Kim Kardashian and considered going to the gate she was paged to to find out.

Our flight ended up leaving a little bit late, due to needing to unload some of the cargo to make the distance and also to ensure we didn't arrive before the 5am curfew in Brisbane airport.

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Weight thrown and the slippery slope

Seth Godin - Sat 19th Jul 2014 19:07
Sometimes it's fun or profitable to throw your weight around, to get customers or partners or students or the media or even local government agencies to do what you need them to do. Inevitably, weight throwers come to a fork...         Seth Godin
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"I don't have any good ideas"

Seth Godin - Fri 18th Jul 2014 19:07
That's a common mantra among those that say that they want to leap, but haven't, and aren't, and won't. What they're actually saying is, "I don't have any ideas that are guaranteed to work, and not only that, are guaranteed...         Seth Godin
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This week's sponsor: Bigstock

a list apart - Fri 18th Jul 2014 03:07

Bigstock is now offering a 7-day free trial. Get 35 free hi-res, royalty-free images. Download now!

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Laura Kalbag on Freelance Design: I Don’t Like It

a list apart - Thu 17th Jul 2014 22:07

“I don’t like it”—The most dreaded of all design feedback from your client/boss/co-worker. This isn’t so much a matter of your ego being damaged, it’s just not useful or constructive criticism.

In order to do better we need feedback grounded in understanding of user needs. And we need to be sure it’s not coming from solely the client’s aesthetic preferences, which may be impeccable but may not be effective for the product.

Aesthetics are a matter of taste. Design is not just aesthetics. I’m always saying it, but it’s worth repeating: there are aesthetic decisions in design, but they are meant to contribute to the design as a whole. The design as a whole is created for an audience, and with goals in mind, so objectivity is required and should be encouraged.

Is the client offering an opinion based on her own taste, trying to reflect the taste of the intended audience, or trying to solve a perceived problem for the user? Don’t take “I don’t like it” at face value and try to respond to it without more communication.

How do we elicit better feedback?

To elicit the type of feedback we want from clients, we should encourage open-ended critiques that explain the reasons behind the negative feedback, critiques that make good use of conjunctions like “because.” “I don’t like it because…” is already becoming more valuable feedback.

Designer: Why don’t you like the new contact form design?

Client: I don’t like it because the text is too big.

Whether that audience can achieve their goals with our product is the primary factor in its success. We need clients to understand that they may not be the target audience. Sometimes this can be hard for anyone close to a product to understand. We may be one of the users of the products we’re designing, but the product is probably not being designed solely for users like us. The product has a specific audience, with specific goals. Once we’ve re-established the importance of the end user, we can then reframe the feedback by asking the question, “how might the users respond?”

Designer: Do you think the users will find the text too big?

Client: Yes. They’d rather see everything without having to scroll.

Designer: The text will have to be very small if we try to fit it all into the top of the page. It might be hard to read.

Client: That’s fine. All of our users are young people, so their eyesight is good.

Throughout the design process, we need to check our hidden assumptions about our users. We should also ensure any feedback we get isn’t based upon an unfounded assumption. If the client says the users won’t like it, ask why. Uncover the assumption—maybe it’s worth testing with real users?

Designer: Can we be certain that all your users are young people? And that all young people have good eyesight? We might risk losing potential customers unless the site is easy for everyone to read.

How do we best separate out assumptions from actual knowledge? Any sweeping generalizations about users, particularly those that assume users all share common traits, are likely to need testing. A thorough base of user research, with evidence to fall back on, will give you a much better chance at spotting these assumptions.

The design conversation

As designers, we can’t expect other people to know the right language to describe exactly why they think something doesn’t work. We need to know the right questions that prompt a client to give constructive criticism and valuable feedback. I’ve written before on how we can pre-empt problems by explaining our design decisions when we share our work, but it’s impossible to cover every minute detail and the relationships between them. If a client can’t articulate why they don’t like the design as a whole, break the design into components and try to narrow down which part isn’t working for them.

Designer: Which bit of text looks particularly big to you?

Client: The form labels.

When you’ve zeroed in on a component, elicit some possible reasons that it might not be effective.

Designer: Is it because the size of the form labels leaves less space for the other elements, forcing the users to scroll more?

Client: Yes. We need to make the text smaller.

Reining it in

Aesthetics are very much subject to taste. You know what colors you like to wear, and the people you find attractive, and you don’t expect everyone else to share those same tastes. Nishant wrote a fantastic column about how Good Taste Doesn’t Matter and summarized it best when he said:

good and virtuous taste, by its very nature, is exclusionary; it only exists relative to shallow, dull…tastes. And if good design is about finding the most appropriate solution to the problem at hand, you don’t want to start out with a solution set that has already excluded a majority of the possibilities compliments of the unicorn that is good taste. Taste’s great

Designer: But if we make the text smaller, we’ll make it harder to read. Most web pages require scrolling, so that shouldn’t be a problem for the user. Do you think the form is too long, and that it might put users off from filling it in?

Client: Yes, I want people to find it easy to contact us.

Designer: How about we take out all the form fields, except the email address and the message fields, as that’s all the information we really need?

Client: Yes, that’ll make the form much shorter.

If you’re making suggestions, don’t let a client say yes to your first one. These suggestions aren’t meant as an easy-out, allowing them to quickly get something changed to fit their taste. This is an opportunity to brainstorm potential alternatives on the spot. Working collaboratively is the important part here, so don’t just go away to work out the first alternative by yourself.

If you can work out between you which solution is most likely to be successful, the client will be more committed to the iteration. You’ll both have ownership, and you’ll both understand why you’ve decided to make it that way.

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The special problem

Seth Godin - Thu 17th Jul 2014 19:07
Yes, it's possible that your particular challenge is unique, that your industry, your job situation, your set of circumstances is so one-of-a-kind that the general wisdom doesn't apply. And it's possible that your problem is so perfect and you are...         Seth Godin
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BlueHackers: Adverse Childhood Exprience (ACE) questionnaire | acestoohigh.com

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 17th Jul 2014 18:07

NOTE: the links referred to in this post may contain triggers. Make sure you have appropriate support available.

http://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study, personal as well as ones related to other family members. Once you have your score, there are many useful insights later in the article.

The origin of this study was actually in an obesity clinic.

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Stewart Smith: OpenPower firmware up on github!

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 17th Jul 2014 16:07

With the whole OpenPower thing, a lot of low level firmware is being open sourced, which is really exciting for the platform – the less proprietary code sitting in memory the better in my books.

If you go to https://github.com/open-power you’ll see code for a bunch of the low level firmware for OpenPower and POWER8.

Hostboot is the bit of code that brings up the CPU and skiboot both sets up hardware and provides runtime services to Linux (such as talking to the service processor, if one is present).

Patches to https://github.com/open-power/skiboot/blob/master/doc/overview.txt are (of course) really quite welcome. It shouldn’t be too hard to get your head around the basics.

To see the Linux side of the OPAL interface, go check out linux/arch/powerpc/platforms/powernv -there you can see how we ask OPAL to do things for us.

If you buy a POWER8 system from IBM running PowerKVM you’re running this code.

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Stewart Smith: Update on MySQL on POWER8

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 17th Jul 2014 15:07

About 1.5 months ago I blogged on MySQL 5.6 on POWER andtalked about what I had to poke at to make modern MySQL versions run and run well on shiny POWER8 systems.

One of those bugs, MySQL bug 47213 (InnoDB mutex/rw_lock should be conscious of memory ordering other than Intel) was recently marked as CLOSED by the Oracle MySQL team and the upcoming 5.6.20 and 5.7.5 releases should have the fix!

This is excellent news for those wanting to run MySQL on SMP systems that don’t have an Intel-like memory model (e.g. POWER and MIPS64).

This was the most major and invasive patch in the patchset for MySQL on POWER. It’s absolutely fantastic that this has made it into 5.6.20 and 5.7.5 and may mean that these new versions will work out-of-the-box on POWER (I haven’t checked… but from glancing back at my patchset there was only one other patch that could be related to correctness rather than performance).

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Rusty Russell: API Bug of the Week: getsockname().

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 17th Jul 2014 14:07

A “non-blocking” IPv6 connect() call was in fact, blocking.  Tracking that down made me realize the IPv6 address was mostly random garbage, which was caused by this function:

bool get_fd_addr(int fd, struct protocol_net_address *addr) { union { struct sockaddr sa; struct sockaddr_in in; struct sockaddr_in6 in6; } u; socklen_t len = sizeof(len); if (getsockname(fd, &u.sa, &len) != 0) return false; ... }

The bug: “sizeof(len)” should be “sizeof(u)”.  But when presented with a too-short length, getsockname() truncates, and otherwise “succeeds”; you have to check the resulting len value to see what you should have passed.

Obviously an error return would be better here, but the writable len arg is pretty useless: I don’t know of any callers who check the length return and do anything useful with it.  Provide getsocklen() for those who do care, and have getsockname() take a size_t as its third arg.

Oh, and the blocking?  That was because I was calling “fcntl(fd, F_SETFD, …)” instead of “F_SETFL”!

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When in doubt, re-read rule one

Seth Godin - Wed 16th Jul 2014 19:07
Rule one has two parts: a. the customer is always right b. if that's not true, it's unlikely that this person will remain your customer. If you need to explain to a customer that he's wrong, that everyone else has...         Seth Godin
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Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 167: Hamilton Pool and Reimers Ranch Park

Planet Linux Australia - Wed 16th Jul 2014 11:07

Zoe slept all night, but woke up with signs of coming down with a cold. She was also mighty grumpy. The plan had been to go swimming at Hamilton Pool today, and I was initially thinking we should skip it, but Eva pointed out it was like 100°F and it wouldn't really change much, so we stuck with the original plan.

Hamilton Pool allows a limited number of vehicles in at a time, and so Neal was aiming to be there at 9am when the park opened to guarantee we'd get in. We arrived right at the crack of 9am, and there were a few cars in front of us already, but we made it in successfully.

Zoe did really well walking down from the car park to the pool, and we swam around for a bit. It was out of my comfort zone for swimming (rocky floor, poor visibility, over my head water depth), but I swam across it anyway. It was a very beautiful pool carved out of the limestone by Hamilton Creek. There were a couple of points where the creek trickled over the edge overhead and made little showers.

After a couple of hours there, we returned to the car (Zoe again did really well hiking up) and drove to neighbouring Reimers Ranch, where we had our picnic lunch under cover while a rain shower passed over. We then walked down to the Pedernales River and had a swim around in there.

Zoe wore a life jacket at both swimming locations, and really enjoyed the independence of being able to float around in the deep water.

We had to be back home by 3pm, which we were, so it was a shorter day than yesterday, but a good one nevertheless. The inclement weather also seemed to drop the temperature by about 5 degrees Celsius, so it was a good day overall. Aside from the morning grumpies, Zoe was in a fabulous mood all day.

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James Morris: Linux Security Summit 2014 Schedule Published

Planet Linux Australia - Wed 16th Jul 2014 09:07

The schedule for the 2014 Linux Security Summit (LSS2014) is now published.

The event will be held over two days (18th & 19th August), starting with James Bottomley as the keynote speaker.  The keynote will be followed by referred talks, group discussions, kernel security subsystem updates, and break-out sessions.

The refereed talks are:

  • Verified Component Firmware – Kees Cook, Google
  • Protecting the Android TCB with SELinux – Stephen Smalley, NSA
  • Tizen, Security and the Internet of Things – Casey Schaufler, Intel
  • Capsicum on Linux – David Drysdale, Google
  • Quantifying and Reducing the Kernel Attack Surface -  Anil Kurmus, IBM
  • Extending the Linux Integrity Subsystem for TCB Protection – David Safford & Mimi Zohar, IBM
  • Application Confinement with User Namespaces – Serge Hallyn & Stéphane Graber, Canonical

Discussion session topics include Trusted Kernel Lock-down Patch Series, led by Kees Cook; and EXT4 Encryption, led by Michael Halcrow & Ted Ts’o.   There’ll be kernel security subsystem updates from the SELinux, AppArmor, Smack, and Integrity maintainers.  The break-out sessions are open format and a good opportunity to collaborate face-to-face on outstanding or emerging issues.

See the schedule for more details.

LSS2014 is open to all registered attendees of LinuxCon.  Note that discounted registration is available until the 18th of July (end of this week).

See you in Chicago!

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Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 166: The Neal Tanner tour of Austin

Planet Linux Australia - Wed 16th Jul 2014 07:07

Alas, Zoe woke up at about 1am very sad. I'm not sure if she woke up and was so sad because of the lack of Cowie or disorientation due to the new house, but I managed to calm her down in my room downstairs and get her to go back to bed in Graydon's room, and she slept until about 7:30am. Miraculously, she didn't seem to wake up Graydon or Wiley.

Neal had some time off, and with the au pair looking after Wiley, he was able to give Zoe and I a tour of Austin with Graydon tagging along.

First stop was the Capitol building in Austin. It was a beautiful building, bigger than the Capitol building in Washington D.C. (everything's bigger in Texas). We tacked ourselves onto the end of a tour, and broke away a couple of times to check things out at our own pace.

Unfortunately the Senate wing was closed for remodeling, and the House of Representatives was being used for a mock government thing (I learned that Texas only has a part time legislature), so we weren't able to see these wings thoroughly, but we were able to go into the public gallery of the House of Representatives while the mock government thing was happening.

Zoe and Graydon had lots of fun chasing each other around the rotunda under the dome, and no one seemed to care.

After that, we drove over to Zilker Park for a picnic lunch.

After lunch, we went into Barton Springs Pool, an underground spring-fed natural pool, for a swim. The water was a very refreshing 20°C. The bottom was a bit slippery, but manageable. Once Zoe adjusted to the breathtaking cold temperature, she was fine. It was a good day to cool off, because it got up to 37°C.

After the swim, Graydon rode his bike, and Zoe borrowed his balance bike, and we made our way along the trail that ran along the edge of Town Lake, and took in a spectacular view of downtown Austin.

It was seriously hot by this stage, and Zoe was struggling a bit, so we slowly made our way back to the car. I'd spotted a frozen custard place in our travels, so we sampled some of that on the way back home.

For dinner, Neal and I popped out to Rudy's for some more tasty BBQ take out for dinner. It was quite the experience just ordering.

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