Tag Archives: mhvlug

10 Years of MHVLUG

10 years ago today I was on a plane, back from Portland, Oregon, to experiment on something new. For the previous 3 months I’d been working towards a kickoff for a local Linux Users Group.

We had a venue: the Mid Hudson Library System Auditorium. We had a date and time:  Wed the 5th of March, 6pm. We had a speaker: Michael Kaegler talking on Linux Firewalling. We had a mailing list and a website, and could clearly see there was interest in the group. But we’d never had a meeting, so this was the moment of truth.

But I was on a plane, racing to get back for the meeting. A month prior my job had changed, I’d started working on OpenHPI, and I’d picked up some standards work, and that meant a trip out of Portland for a 2 day standards meeting with a lot of Intel folks. I managed to get a flight which “should” get me back in time, but I had a plan B to have a Mike Salerno kick off the meeting in my absence. I landed at 5:15, was in my car by 5:30. The meeting was at least 35 minutes away, and there was traffic. Plan B was going to have to be good enough.

When I walked in the door I was blown away. The room was packed! There were at least 35 folks when I arrived, and over the course of the meeting it grew to 50. Wow. I was hoping that it would be more than just me and a few coworkers, but never had I imagined this. I wondered how long this experiment would run, fully imagining that after two years we’d run out of steam and interest and move on.

It’s been 10 years, and MHVLUG is still running strong, better than ever.

For everyone that was part of our first decade, making MHVLUG successful: Thank You. This is a community first, and it’s the people that make this awesome.

For everyone that hasn’t checked us out yet, our 10th Anniversary meeting is tomorrow. We’re going to be talking about: Linux where you least expect it. There will be cake, coffee, and conversation. There will be time for socializing and mixing, to become part of this dynamic community. Join us as we start decade number two.

OpenStack Talk at MHVLUG

On Wed, Sept 5th, I’ll be giving the talk on OpenStack at MHVLUG. The last six months working on the project have been really spectacular, great learning curve, really good community members, and a very exciting potential for where the project is going to go. I’m quite looking forward to going back to work next week after this summer holiday, because I can’t wait to get back into the code.

I’ll provide my personal take with current trends in cloud computing, and hopefully create a lot of in room discussion. We’ll go from that industry lens, to a deeper look at OpenStack. I’m a big believer that like operating systems, web stacks, and virtualization, the essential infrastructure of cloud computing needs to be open source.

If you are in the Mid Hudson Valley next Wed, come check out my talk.

Drupal Meetup Events Module

I just released version 1.1 of the meetup_events module for Drupal. I started building this about 6 months ago when we started using Meetup for Mid Hudson Astronomical Association to draw in new members.

I hate data entry. I find entering the same data twice into a computer one of the most soul sucking things I could do. So having both events on our website, and on meetup, meant I needed to automate things.

Meetup events was thus born. The model is simple, your Drupal site is considered the authoritative resource. You select which node types (which have date fields) you want to sync to meetup, and whenever you create or update an event of that type a meetup entry is made (or updated) accordingly. The body content that is synced is tokenized (and I added a few tokens for getting nodereference content). Venues are a little hokey right now, but I just provide a selector for a numeric field either on the main type or on a nodereference which maps to it.

meetup_events settings

Once you set up the module, including your API key and group url, you pretty much forget it is there. Then you just edit as per normal. Any time you save a type that you are syncing you’ll notice this:

Which includes a link to the meetup event that was just saved.

One of the more recent things I worked on was integration with views so that there is now a Meetup Events: Meetup Link view field for nodes. If you add that to a node listing (and you’ve registered for an oauth key) you’ll get the meetup dynamic RSVP button for your event.

That required a bit of tweaking of the rsvp javascript to make it play nice with Drupal, but given that the meetup team was kind enough to release that code under open source.

There is plenty of work remaining here, ways this could be nicer, but I’m pretty pleased with the results so far. It’s made me learn a bunch about Drupal’s ctools module, more than I ever wanted to know about the drupal settings system, and how to pull in incompatible versions of jquery in custom tools.

I’ve also been really happy with my experience with the Meetup team. They’ve added multiple API calls for me to make my life easier. Thanks guys. If every developer facing team acted like that, the world would be a much better place.

The meetup platform is turning out to be a really great way for our Astronomy club to draw in new people, and I’ve started using it for MHVLUG now as well. Now that I’ve got meetup_events, I can do that seamlessly without data duplication, or degrading our native experience. If you are interested in doing the same, check out the module. Bugs and patches welcomed.

My Unity Tweaks

Last night our MHVLUG meeting was a Desktop Shootout, where people showed off their Linux desktop environments what they liked and what they didn’t. I went last, presenting Unity, and got a few good questions and comments about how I did things.

White listing the Tray

I have a number of apps (RedShift GUI and an IBM firewall thing being prime examples) that minimize to the system tray. Under default Unity this means there is no UI for them. So I’ve done a broad white listing all all applications in the tray. It definitely looks a little uglier now, but at least it works. 🙂

Alt Tab

The default alt tab behavior drives me nuts, because it collapses 2 chrome windows into a single item. So you can’t quickly use it to flip between 2 browser windows. This is provided by the Unity compiz plugin. Fortunately you can just load up one of the other compiz switchers instead.

Run ccsm (Compiz Config Settings Manager) and scroll down to the Window Manangement section. You’ll want to enable “Application Switcher” and configure Next Window (All windows) key stroke there.

If there are other questions you think off, please just ask in comments, and I’ll update the post with the answers.

The Future of Libraries

The metafilter comment that’s been circling about what the massive cut to library funding in California really means:

Every day at my job I helped people just barely survive. Forget trying to form grass roots political activism by creating a society of computer users, forget trying to be the ‘people’s university’ and create a body of well informed citizens. Instead I helped people navigate through the degrading hoops of modern online society, fighting for scraps from the plate, and then kicking back afterwards by pretending to have a farm on Facebook (well, that is if they had any of their 2 hours left when they were done). What were we doing during the nineties? What were we doing during the boom that we’ve been left so ill served during the bust? No one seems to know. They come in to our classes and ask us if we have any ideas, and I do, but those ideas take money, and political will, and guts, and the closer I get to graduation the less and less I suspect that any of those things exist.

I’m a big supporter of libraries. We give annually to our local library (both financially and books and DVDs). I think Librarians are some of the few folks that really get what Copyright should be, and are very reliable advocates for sane copyright policy.

But at the same time I’ve got substantial frustration with parts of our libraries. I’m involved with multiple organizations that create really high quality educational content (MHLVUG and the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association being the topic examples). For 9 years we used the Mid-Hudson Library System space (for a fee) with MHVLUG. It was a great space, but there was a huge missed opportunity, as our relationship with MHLS was always just that of a tenant. At the end, MHLS cutbacks meant we had to find another space, where we moved to Vassar College.

Contrast this with the Astronomy events I’ve led at Vassar College’s Farm Preserve. Not only were we given space, but we were wrapped into their series of events on the Farm Preserve, with joint advertising by the College. That led to huge turn out, and lots of positive feedback for both the College and our group.

The Library could be this kind of thing. And if it was, it would have the Hubble effect, where the citizenry were so invested in the organization that they wouldn’t let it get cut. There are some libraries that are thinking about, and embracing these kinds of ideas. The Fayetteville Free Library is doing some amazing things with setting up a Fab Lab. Lauren Smedley is an inspiration to what the future library could be, and lots of kudos to FFL for hiring her to try to make this happen.

I’m hopeful by nature, and I think our libraries will transform, eventually. But I do think it’s going to take a new generation of librarians to think past just books, and think about community at a broader level.