Looking for some LoCo Team Portal Developers
Being able to find each other is a key part of building community. I mean, what’s the point of having a release party if no one knows where to go? This is why we have tools for bringing people together. We call it the LoCo Team Portal. It’s a portal where local community teams can claim their space, list their events and meetings, as well as allowing people to show their interest, check out where events will be, register their interest, and so on.
It’s got nice map integration too, tell me this isn’t nice:
Nice huh? It’s all in Python and django, and Chris Johnston’s looking to see if anyone is interesting hacking on it with him. You can find their info here: http://loco.ubuntu.com/about/
Let’s make it personal.
One thing Jono’s talked about in the past is how to make Ubuntu more personal. One of the things that suck about the internet is that we’re all behind monitors and keyboards, and it’s hard to remember that there’s a human being on the other end of the line.
Things like Google Hangouts are helping too, it lets us just talk and be more like we are in real life than typing in an IRC window. We totally suck at not learning from social networks and making it …. MORE FUN:
Wow, how horrible. Ok, well, I guess that guy is boring, but what about as a group?
Well, Launchpad does have a team picture view, but I can never figure out how to use it because LP for some reason makes it so hard to set your avatar that most people don’t bother. Also, I think we’re going about it the wrong way. Too sterile. Now what if I told you you could work with these people:
Wow! That’s a dynamic group of people! I already know a bunch more about those people just by those pages than a list of their PGP keys. And if you didn’t know Graham already, you’d totally want to hang out with that guy.
Now, I’m not saying everyone should go delete their home page on Launchpad and use about.me. Let’s look to see what Mozilla’s doing:
Hey, now that’s more like it. Structured, but fun. I can see the people I work with, and remind myself about how ridiculous that moustache is. It makes it more personal, reminds me that we’re part of a large team. Mozilla makes the code to mozillians available. Maybe what we need to do is to integrate something like that with the LoCo directory.
It gives people a place where they can say “I’ve done this!”. Make it so we can thank people right on their page. +1 them, leave a comment. “Man Nigel, you really saved my buns last cycle by working on summit, you’re legend.”
Oh neat, a person’s amazon wishlist right on there? Awesome, let me buy them something, or flattr them, or whatever.
Anyway, some food for thought for UDS.
Open Week Schedule Finalized, come get some
We’re all set to go for Open Week. We’ve got some great sessions lined up.
We’ve got contributing at a local leve, loco team portal, juju for devops, getting started with ubuntu development, ubuntu friendly, ubuntu brainstorm, translations, writing your first app, leadership, social networking via gwibber, bug hunting, ubuntu orchestra, xubuntu, advanced dual booting techniques, Ask Ubuntu, Acessability in Ubuntu, and then I wrap it up with my session on how to use Unity like a boss.
Through unfortunate timing, Mark will be on holiday next week, so we’ll have to make that up to you. But hey, after 4 years of answering user questions every cycle, we let him slide.
Tell a friend!
Looking for a few good people.
I’m looking for instructors for Ubuntu Open Week, which is traditionally held on the week after release on #ubuntu-classroom on Freenode. Want to teach a course on something? Here’s a great way to jump in and help out.
(Original Post) (Logo by htorque)
Ask a Unity Developer ….
The Unity team is doing an “Ask me Anything” on Reddit if you want to join in.
Using Alt-tab and Alt-` in Unity
For 11.10 the launcher team worked on a new alt-tab. Here’s how I use it to switch between not only applications, but windows within applications.
(Sorry about the flicker, seems to be a result of recording it)
My first attempt at an Ensemble formula
First Chris Johnston and Michael Hall started an etherpad with the instructions for installing summit (and we’re doing one for the LoCo directory too since we like biting off more than we can chew).
Here’s the first cut of the install script based on those instructions, then I went ahead and ran it in a VM to make sure it worked non-interactively. The documentation recommends that you have a plan before you start. Basically you are scripting an install on a brand new OS installation so you have to think of things you might normally take for granted, like remembering to install bzr or git before you pull something, heh:
When attempting to write a formula, it is beneficial to have a mental plan of what it takes to deploy the software. In our case, you should deploy drupal manually, understand where its configuration information is written, how the first node is deployed, and how further nodes are configured. With respect to this formula, this is the plan.
I did ok until I got to the
python manage.py syncdb part of summit, which asked me a question, but not bad for the first shot.
Of course, had I picked something packaged it wouldn’t be so complicated, my install script would just be an apt-get command but I think it’s useful to be able to just fire off an instance of summit right from trunk.
The ability to just grab whatever you want right from trunk and fire off an instance is pretty powerful, I’m looking forward to seeing James Page’s etherpad-lite formula be ready so anyone can just fire one up for $your-favorite-conference.
A retrospective of the first year of Ask Ubuntu
Today Ask Ubuntu celebrates it’s first year in existence. Though publicly launched on the eve of 10.10.10, the site went into private beta one year ago today. At the time Evan Dandrea had seen Area 51 and had proposed an Ubuntu Stack Exchange.
I was just as confused as everyone else. It wasn’t until I spoke with Evan at Debconf 10 where he explained it to me. In fact, you can probably call this the first time the idea of mercilessly removing horrible content from Ubuntu properties got started in my brain.
His gist was this; like with code, there is just no replacement for peer reviewed content that focuses on quality. That’s basically the mission of the site. So with that, I dove in head first and decided that I was going to help will this site into existence.
It took us a while (from end of July until October actually) to find our feet. That’s where we honed down our FAQ, what was ontopic and what wasn’t, we narrowly focused what we would be good at, answering people’s questions. We would heavily leverage the existing wiki documentation, bug reports redirected to launchpad, discussion moved to the forums or IRC. No distractions from the mission, ask a question, get an answer; the rest is just furniture.
So how are we doing?
We are currently the 4th largest Stack Exchange according to traffic (behind the original trilogy of Stack Overflow, Super User, and Server Fault). Here’s where you can sort the criteria. During the release of 11.04 we hit around 45k traffic, which is about 50% of Server Fault’s traffic (in less than a year!).
While all that is fine and good, what about user engagement? Well, currently we have about 19,000 registered users, here’s the breakdown by reputation. (Reputation is a measure of how much other user’s trust you).
Stack Exchanges are unique in that priviledges to run the site are earned by the votes from your peers (which is measured in reputation). The more reputation you earn, the more rights you have to edit the content on the site. A user with 20,000 reputation is basically a moderator, but the important one to me is 2,000. This is the level where you no longer need to have someone peer review every edit, and editing is how content stays fresh and relevant.
I consider everyone with over 2,000 reputation to be a heavily engaged user on AU, someone who has taken a personal interest in making the site succeed. We have 85 people with over 2,000 reputation, meaning we have 85 people continuously improving the site at a high engagement level.
Surprisingly, you’ll see over 18,000 people mostly just consuming the content. This is the userbase we serve the most, but you can see how a relatively small group of people can make something good happen.
And what about the end result? So far our accepted answer rate sits at 81% (which is about the same as the original trilogy sites). We’re constantly looking for ways to improve quality; I sometimes yearn for the day when we could answer 95% of the questions, but hey, with great size comes great craziness of unanswerable questions.
I have a ton of people to thank, you all know who you are, the first pile numbers at about 85 people. We’ve all been putting in crazy hours to make this work. For me personally it’s been an about one hour before work, most of lunch, and multiple hours after work. (Spouses getting Ph.D’s are good for internet participation!)
Now that the first “ooh ahh” year is out of the way, the next comes the grinding run into the playoffs. There’s no doubt in my mind we can
eclipse Server Fault provide better quality for end users, it’s just a matter of time and workin’ hard.
If you’re feeling intimidated by it just dive in and get started, we’re friendly, and remember that reputation is a measure of trust, not exactly skill (where else would I outnumber Kees Cook in anything by 16,000 units?)
You can earn reputation by asking good questions, submitting edits to make content relevant for today, or by answering questions. Once you have the 15 rep required to vote you can very easily determine the quality of the site by just voting a few times a day. The quality of the content is determined by it’s people, so I’m looking for experts, people who want to be experts, beginners, medium level, and whoever to dive in and help someone out.
Here’s to another year!
Easy Hadoop via Ensemble
People are talking a lot about Hadoop and Big Data. This is an area where a tool like Ensemble can really help out. Juan Negron has distilled the installation process for Hadoop on Ubuntu into a formula.
There is work going on to make the formulas easier to find and share, right now you pull it from a bzr branch, but the project is moving along at a fast rate, you can find out more about Ensemble on cloud.ubuntu.com.
Sharing Ensemble Formulas
Ahmed and I have tagged some Ensemble formula requests as bitesize. The PHP ones will be pretty straight forward, so if you’re deploying in EC2 and want to dive in and share your expertise (and snag some existing formulas for yourself!)
If you’re looking for a Formula for something you’d like to see to be made easy to deploy in EC2 please feel free to file a new bug.
You can find the docs for writing formulas here. If you’re writing an awesome app you’d like to see made easy to deploy in EC2, then let me know and we’ll get started.
What kind of apps should people make with Ubuntu One?
This cycle I’ll be working with the immitable Stuart Langridge on building out a community around the Ubuntu One Developer Programme, which he announced at UDS. The video isn’t up yet (but I’ll blog about it when it is).
Some of the parts are now coming together. You can find the API docs here:
and I’ve started a wiki page of some ideas for applications that people might want to build around Ubuntu One.
So what does this all mean? Well, at this point we’re getting feedback from people who are idea junkies on what kind of apps people should build. Sometimes I find people with programming skills with nothing to do and they ask me “Ok what needs to get done?” and then I kind of have nothing for them off the top of my head.
However it’s more focused when you can build a quick little plugin for Banshee or a little helper application that helps me sync something I wasn’t able to sync before. Here’s an example of some ideas so far.
As you can see we already have a bunch of ideas. Also, as you can see, the API can be used from any operating system. The Ubuntu One team will concentrate on making the API and the core syncing service and of course, integrating it with the core parts of the OS, but for the rest, there is no limit. One of the applications that added support early on was Shutter, the (amazing) screenshot program:
Integration like this is just the beginning. There are tons of devices out there, and while I can pretty much guarantee that no one at Canonical will be working on a Windows Phone 7 application for Ubuntu One, there’s nothing stopping anyone else from writing one, and it’s things like that that will enable that person to use Ubuntu better the day they do decide to try it.
So have a think about the devices you use, and platforms your friends use. I personally would /love/ to stream my Ubuntu One music right in XBMC for example.
So, this is the start, I’ll be blogging about this more regularly, expect to see updates from Stuart on how the API is progressing and improvements as they happen. Have a think about your developer friends that might be experts in other platforms, and see if they’d be interested in working on this.
Feel free to just tack on your ideas on the wiki page.
Some more opportunities for Unity contributions
I was checking out some of the incoming merge proposals from contributors and I noticed a FIXME in a comment and decided to see what’s in the Unity source code that someone might want to check out if they’re looking for something TODO or FIXME.
Turns out it’s not as bad as you’d think,
I’m going to update this list weeklyish, it’s already found some dead code that Neil was able to just purge from the source tree, so if someone wants to go ahead and start going through these and check for low hanging fruit it’d be a nice project for someone who wants to dig in. If the FIXME or TODO is missing a corresponding number then perhaps filing placeholders for them would be useful as well.
“For crying out loud Amber, it’s just a stupid newsletter”
… and the second I said this sentence to Amber Graner at UDS I followed it up with “in the same way that it’s just an operating system, and it’s just a computer, really, it’s not worth it.”
And that made me feel better after totally thrusting a spear into her chest.
We were about 10 minutes into the “Let’s have someone work on Ubuntu Weekly News and not make them want to kill themselves” session (note: the proper name might have been different.)
I’d like to see people pick this up. Sometimes we have a tendency to chew people up. (Actually Amber blew out her knee at the airport, people will say it’s chance, but I’m going to call the burnout card on this one, mwahahaha).
No really, the team needs help. If 3-5 people joined the team we’d have a nice balanced workload, there’s no reason why we should have people killing themselves over a newsletter …
I am totally playing the “Project Asshole Joker Card” on this one. UWN has been limping along crushing people who have been trying to make it work. We need to have people step up and making it rock before people like Amber quit.
Sorry I didn’t respond to you on IRC, I was busy swimming with Dolphins
So I’m not sure if this is a Canonical/Ubuntu thing or just a geek thing. But I’ve not taken a vacation in about a year, since I got married. They keep saying that Americans suck at vacations (apparently the Japanese are even more workaholics, but whatever).
So screw it, for my 1st year anniversary not only did I hit up Florida but I hit up the Bahamas and swam with dolphins. It was expensive, but who cares …
I am convinced I’m getting rid of my cat and adopting Salvador, who is an amazing bottlenose Dolphin. I’m kind of a nature dork, but I did learn that all the noises they make all come out of the blowhole, not the mouth. Even though by looking at them and they do their amazing dolphin-cute things you’d think they’d be making the noises out of their mouths.
But enough about me…
Things I learned about Ubuntu by going on Vacation and then coming back.
- ~ubuntu-bugcontrol recommends that you contact individuals, this is crap, it should be team based.
- 90% of my PMs could have been handled by someone asking the same question on a public channel.
- 90% of my PMs would have been better off as emails so they wouldn’t have been lost in IRC.
- Florida is amazing, and everything I wanted to know about Florida I found on their team page. (I’m moving to Florida for a year so I wanted to check out how they roll, they apparently roll amazingly).
- 6 new Unity contributors since 11.04. Tons of bugfixes by the Italian Stallions, but some new folks (more on this later).
And the best lesson learned so far …. no matter how hard you work, it’s all ok if you’re gone for a bit.
This is a good lesson to learn.
Pretend you decided to just follow your dreams and ride that motorcyle to the ends of the EARTH. How would your coworkers deal? And I don’t mean “coworkers” in the sense of wether you work at Canonical or not, I mean your Ubuntu teammates.
I’d like to think that no one in the project is irreplaceable. Not because we’re each so individually amazing that we’re arrogant prima donnas, but that we recognize that our teams are stronger by intentionally mentoring folks so that the project continues to be strong even when someone is missing.