Monthly Archives: May 2015

Slackers and IT

Go read “Science Fiction Is for Slackers.”

As a rule, science fiction may be the laziest of all genres, not because the stories themselves are too facile—they can be just as sophisticated and challenging as those of any other genre—but because they often revel in easy solutions: Why walk when you can warp? Why talk when you’re a telepath? Technology in such stories typically has more to do with workarounds than it does with work.

I do love science fiction. From robots/AI to star travel to virtual reality. I love it all. I may even love it BECAUSE of the laziness. I’d love to have all these things to make my life better. And much of science fiction influences technologists into making decisions to make the fiction a reality.

The How Shatner Changed the World (mock) documentary talks about the technologies of Star Trek and how scientists work towards making these things reality. Faster than light travel and cybernetics are still aspirant. But cell phones and personal computers were influenced by technologists familiar with the show and movies.

At times I worry about automation putting me out of a job, but then I remember my career goal is always to replace myself with a tiny shell script. Why click when I can script? Why script when I can tell an AI to handle it? Sure it takes away some of my responsibilities, but what I am supposed to do has always changed. And I get better challenging work when I free myself from mundane tasks.

Guess this is why I told Puppet Labs my job is an Automation Evangelist. It’s not universal. I have allies, but convincing people of the good in automation is much like changing their religion.

Back in college I was encouraged to become a librarian. More specifically, people thought I should become an automation librarian. I guess the automation part stuck?

The post Slackers and IT appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Slackers and IT published May 29, 2015 at 07:05AM.

Separating Bash Histories

Years ago, maybe 2011 based on the age of files, our Systems group moved our Linux home directories to a central system. My only real complaint about this move was finding anything I needed in my Bash history. See, I am terrible at remembering things and often make typos. It is easier to go back in my history to a prior command and either run it or modify that one and run. The same home directory across all these systems complicated things by co-mingling commands. I was able to find things. Just eventually. That seemed inefficient.

Eventually, this situation annoyed me to the point I decided to fix it. And the fix was so simple it is amazing that I did not immediately address it rather than suffering with it for a couple years. (Well, actually, we picked Desire2Learn before the change so 90% of my server responsibilities were on Windows. Only when I was promoted to a Technology Strategist and returned to majority work in Linux did it get annoying enough to address.)

The fix? Add hostname to the HISTFILE variable in .bash_profile.

export HISTFILE=”${HOME}/.bash_history.`hostname`”

Apparently I made the change back on December 18th. In the six months since, I have not noticed any oddities with the history. This morning I noticed that I have about twenty different host named history files of various sizes and dates.

Given the number of files, while writing this post, I decided to re-organize these into a directory. (An organized home directory is a happy home directory. Heh.)

export HISTFILE=”${HOME}/.bash_history/.bash_history.`hostname`”

Then I ran these.

mv .bash_history
mkdir .bash_history
mv .bash_history.* .bash_history

Then I exited which dumped that session’s history into a file in the old location. I logged in again and used cat and the output redirect to append those new lines to the correct file in the new location.

Exited again and logged in again. And everything still looks good.

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From Separating Bash Histories published May 28, 2015 at 10:40AM.

RollCall For The Helicopter Child

The AJC had an interesting article about RollCall Safety Text, an app which automates “I’m OK” messages for loved ones. Failing to get such a message lets someone know something might be wrong. The intended audience is for kids off at college to send these to parents. There is a note near the bottom:

While the app came about with college students in mind, Thomas says it can also be useful to people who have family members whom they don’t see or hear from daily.

This fits my situation with my parents. I guess that makes me a helicopter child. (OK that’s hyperbolic.) Both are pretty independent and quite capable. But, if something were to happen, then it very well could be a long time before someone noticed. I’m reminded of a great-aunt who had a stroke and no one knew until her neighbors noticed her in the yard.

At present I kind of already have this as one of them is on Facebook and likes pretty much everything (I think more to indicate it has been read than an actual indication of liking it). Seeing these on my posts is my equivalent of RollCall. And yes, I did call this parent once when I realized I had not seen anything in a few days.

The other? Yeah, it might be good to have something like RollCall.


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From RollCall For The Helicopter Child published May 20, 2015 at 07:44AM.

TED Talk: On being wrong

A while back I pulled a post at request of my boss. It had to do with my wanting to be caught being wrong by my coworkers. I catch myself being wrong all the time, so I very much know my own fallibility. But, people take lack of confidence as lack of ability. Which means to get things done, one has to appear 100% confident even when 51%.

Kathryn Schulz discusses our feelings of rightness while being wrong. After watching this, I realized that I may have odd values. I enjoy discovering my being wrong about something and figuring out why I went astray. The path to knowing leads through not knowing. Finding out where I am wrong opens up new possibilities to learn something I should have already known.

I’m not worried about others not knowing (Ignorance), not making the same connections (Idiocy), or not making the decision I’d have made (Evil). I worry about people devaluing self-correction as much as I do. I want a world where we strive to be the best we can intellectually be. I try to surround myself with people more intelligent and with deep wells of knowledge outside areas I am competent.

My favorite reason for having a smartphone is quickly accessing information. I will assert something in a conversation and while this is fresh on my mind have a doubt that I was correct. A concrete example. Last night, a friend told me her grandfather from Mexico was German. I asked if his parents migrated during WWI or WWII. So when I looked a bit later, I learned the German migrations to Mexico started in the mid-19th Century and continued through WWII. (TED)

Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.


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From TED Talk: On being wrong published May 19, 2015 at 06:32PM.

Athens Tech Blogs

Our office resides in Athens, GA about an hour from Atlanta. A work news post noting Atlanta tech blogs was strange to me. There is plenty HERE. Why ignore all the great local stuff?

And I do not mean my blog. I post too infrequently to really matter and mostly ignore technology of late.

  • Four Athens is a technology incubator here in Athens. They organize networking events and have a good calendar of various tech meetings happening here. (Twitter)
  • Free IT Athens is a local volunteer organization who help re-use computers and free software for the needy. They recently brought Richard Stallman here. (Twitter)
  • Vitamin C makes healthcare software. (Twitter)
  • The Accidental CIO is run by the Chief Information Officer for UGA. Work is related to UGA, but not part of their organizational structure. Tim has a seat on the search committee for our replacement CIO because, well, who we select is critically important to UGA. (Twitter)
  • The Hatch is an Athens makerspace. (Twitter)
  • Mark Fennell is an Athens DBA / web developer. (Twitter)

If there is something IT-related going on in Athens, then these two are probably writing about it.

Blogs are like so 2000s. They are sunsetting as the readers spend more time on Facebook and Twitter. All of you probably noticed I put links to the Twitter feeds for those blogs. That’s because much of the conversations who used to occur on blogs have shifted to Twitter. Actually, most of the blogs listed above I found through Twitter. Some other Athens Tech Tweeters:

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From Athens Tech Blogs published May 18, 2015 at 05:37PM.

Review: Táin Bó Cúalnge. English

Táin Bó Cúalnge. English
Táin Bó Cúalnge. English by L. Winifred Faraday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put out a call on Facebook for suggestions on Gaelic mythology to read. This was the top suggestion.

This strongly reminded me of Norse and Saxon epics. All account for the names of places by describing the battles undertaken there. Each is more fantastic than the next.

This one follows Cúchulainn, the Hound of Ulster. He battles against the armies of queen Medb. He can stun dozens of swans with a single throw of a stone. Or use thrown spears as stepping stones. You know… The kind of stuff one would see in an ancient China martial arts movie such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Which reminds me, there MUST be a movie about this epic, right?

View all my reviews

The post Review: Táin Bó Cúalnge. English appeared first on Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4.

From Review: Táin Bó Cúalnge. English published May 08, 2015 at 01:06PM.