Looking for my replacement

It’s been nearly three years since I joined Cycle Computing as a Senior Support Engineer. Initially, I led a team of me, but since then we’ve grown the organization. I’d like to think I did a good job of growing not only the team, but the tooling and processes to enable my company to provide excellent support to enterprise customers across a variety of fields.

But now, it is time to hire my replacement. I’m taking my talents across the (proverbial) hall to being working as a Technical Evangelist. I’ll be working on technical marketing materials, conferences, blog posts, and all kinds of neat stuff like that. I think it’s a good overlap of my skills and interests, and it will certainly be a new set of challenges.

So while this move is good for me, and good for Cycle Computing’s marketing efforts, it also means we need a new person to manage our support team. The job has been posted to our job board. If you’re interested, I encourage you to apply. It’s a great team at a great company. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to talk to you about it.

Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame featured in The Atlantic

On Friday, The Atlantic published an article about National Weather Service forecast discussions and why they are…they way they are. The article prominently featured several entries in the Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame and mentioned yours truly by name. After years of carefully curating the best forecast discussions, my hard work is finally paying off. Time to quit my job and bask in the glory!

Okay, so maybe not. It’s a pretty cool thing to happen, though. If this blog has gained any new followers thanks to that article, welcome!

While snowfall records were falling over the weekend, FunnelFiasco records were falling, too. I took a look at the site stats for weather.funnelfiasco.com over the weekend. As of Saturday evening, just the weather subdomain had nearly 14,000 hits from about 2,700 unique visitors in January, almost all on Friday and Saturday. That’s over six months’ worth of traffic and about half a month’s for all of FunnelFiasco.

January traffic by day for weather.funnelfiasco.com through the evening of January 23.

January traffic by day for weather.funnelfiasco.com through the evening of January 23.

Let’s look at some meaningless statistics. The two largest hosts were both .noaa.gov addresses, which doesn’t surprise me. I have to figure that the article would have had some interest in the halls of the National Weather Service. A caltech.edu address was 18th, which surprises me. I guess my Purdue friends don’t read The Atlantic. The leading operating system was Windows, with iOS, Linux, and OS X following. iOS was 23% of January weather.funnelfiasco.com traffic and it’s normally 1.9% of total funnelfiasco.com traffic.

500 posts and counting

WordPress tells me that this post is the 500th one I’ve published. Interestingly, it’s also the 100th post in 2015. My first post was published in January 2008, so that means I’m averaging about 63 per year. Considering I was publishing three times a week for a while, that means there’s a pretty big lull in there somewhere. But I’ve been able to keep a pace of two posts per week pretty well this year; I’m hoping to sustain that into 2016 and beyond.

How do the posts break down?

Category Count
FLOSS 150
Musings 112
The Internet 104
FunnelFiasco 96
Weather 80
Project Management 42
Sports 41
HPC/HTC 26
Uncategorized 16
Mac 16
Web Design 9
Cooking 5

Of the 556 comments (more than one per article, yay?), eight had 10 or more. The most commented is my article about bad security on Speeddate.com, many of which were “please delete my Speeddate.com account”.

I didn’t do anything with page view stats until earlier this year, but since then my most viewed article is one about fixing a CUPS error from April 2010, which still averages 3-5 views a day. 40% of my traffic comes on Tuesdays and 17% comes during the 8 PM (hour any day). Perhaps I need to adjust my posting schedule?

In any case, thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing on these 500 posts. I’m looking forward to the next 500.

LISA Conference wrap-up

After a one-year hiatus, I returned to the LISA Conference as a member of the blog team. It was great to see old friends and make new ones. Continuing the theme from last year, the blog was less about daily summaries and more about telling stories. This was a lot more rewarding, but it was also more work. All told, I wrote 2822 words, which is less than normal, but I’d like to think the quality is better.

People stories

  • Alice Goldfuss — This year was Alice’s first LISA trip and first time presenting to a large conference. The reaction to her talk was overwhelmingly positive, and I’m sad I missed it.
  • Kyle Neumann — Kyle is another first-time attendee and loved his experience. He also gave me a lot of good ideas for how to make the first-timer experience better.
  • Jamie Riedesel — A long-time friend of this blog is recognized for contributions to the professional community.

Conference program

  • Government for better or for worse — The Wednesday keynote was delivered by the head of the US Digital Service and the Thursday keynote by a principal technologist at the ACLU. They provided contrasting perspectives on government.
  • The mini-tutorial experiment — Wednesday through Friday now has mini-tutorials interspersed with the conference program instead of being separate half- and full-day sessions.
  • Monday — Before I got into the groove of telling stories, I wrote what was basically a summary of my day.

Vendor articles

  • Midfin — This company just exited stealth and has an interesting product for making internal datacenters more nimble.
  • Xirrus — They donated equipment and engineering effort for the WiFi network.
  • JumpCloud — This company provides cloud-based Directory-as-a-Service, something I’ve been looking for at work.

Hurricane Joaquin forecast contest begins

Hey! The tropics have awoken and there’s a not-unreasonable chance that the newly-upgraded Hurricane Joaquin will make landfall. Here’s your chance to test your forecast skill: http://funnelfiasco.com/cgi-bin/hurricane.cgi?cmd=view&year=2015&name=joaquin

Submit your forecast by 00 UTC on October 2 (8 PM EDT Thursday). If Joaquin does not make landfall, we’ll just pretend like this never happened. For previous forecast game results, see http://weather.funnelfiasco.com/tropical/game/

New entries in the Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame

Radar estimates of wind speed aren’t always the most reliable for a variety of reasons, but on Friday, forecasters in Memphis, TN opted to believe the radar instead of the surface observation. Maybe because the Millington station was reporting a 343 MPH wind gust.

NWS forecasters are public servants dedicated to preserving life and property. It should come as no surprise that they are sometimes moved by uncontrollable bursts of patriotism. Chris Hattings in Riverton, WY felt very Jeffersonian on Independence Day.

Both of these discussions have been added to the Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame.

Impact of license selection on open source software quality

I’ve made several vague references to my master’s thesis on this blog, but I’ve never said much of substance. Your long wait is over though, as I’ve finally gotten around to uploading it and creating a research page on the website. If you don’t want to read the full thesis, there’s a condensed version that was presented at a conference in March (and won best paper in the session, I might add).

The even more condensed version is that my research shows (to my dismay) that copyleft projects tend to have higher technical debt than permissively-licensed projects. What’s more interesting than the results is the pile of questions that it brings up.

I’ll admit that my methods are not necessarily the most stringent, particularly when it comes to how quality is proxied (or even the quantification of technical debt). My methodology was partly driven by convenience and partly driven by the dearth of research available on the topic. Of course, the steep price of the C/C++ plugin hampered my ability to get a good sample.

I hope someone else picks up where I left off and does a more detailed analysis. For my own part, I hope to be able to conduct some research in my “spare time”. In addition to the mere study of differences in debt, I’d like to see how non-license project governance affects software quality. There was no analysis in my study of developer quantity, funding, etc. The ultimate goal is to develop concrete recommendations for FLOSS project leaders that would improve the quality of the finished product.

 

Building my website with blatter

I recently came across a project called “blatter”. It’s a Python script that uses jinja2’s template engine to build static websites. This is exactly the sort of thing I’d been looking for. I don’t do anything too fancy with FunnelFiasco.com, but every once in a while I want to make a change across all (or at least most) pages. For example, I recently updated the default content license from CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 United States to CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International. It’s a relatively minor change, but changing it everywhere is a real pain.

Sure, I could switch to a real CMS (heck, I already have WordPress installed!) or re-do the site in PHP, but that sounded too much like effort. I like my static pages that are artisinally hand-crafted slapped together in vi, but I also like being able to make lazy changes. And I really like page-to-page consistency. With blatter, I can create a few small templates and suddenly changes can be made across the whole site in just a few seconds.

Blatter smoothly merges static and templated content. The only downside is that because it seems to touch all files every time it builds (blats), pushing the new content to my website becomes a larger task. That’s not a huge concern because of the relatively small size of the content, but it’s something that seems fixable. So pretty much all of the site has been blatterized now. For the most part, you shouldn’t really notice any changes.