Joey Stanford

Calling all Chumby Owners

Own a Chumby? Come join the Ubuntu Chumby Hackers team and mailing list. We’re trying to find new and interesting ways to use them with Ubuntu and even run Ubuntu on them.

Don’t have a Chumby? Go get one!

Joey Stanford

Calling all Ubuntu Hams

Are you a licensed amateur radio operator? Use Ubuntu? Great! Come join the new Ubuntu Hams team! And don’t forget to join the mailing list!

Steve had this great idea last week to start an Ubuntu Amateur Radio Club of sorts that also got into the programming and packaging arena. He discussed it with Hugh and me in person last week and we enthusiastically signed on. Come join the fun!

ps. We need a team graphic? Any ideas?

Joey Stanford

Canonical's Company Secret Exposed

After attending the latest Canonical employee gathering (called All Hands) the behind the scenes secret of the company was plainly obvious, even in several of the brand new hires.

When you work for a traditional company where many of the employees are co-located, you often have a power structure at play which dictates to a large extent the culture. This culture usually involves some sort of dress code (often informal, peer driven) and at times the installation of utter fear and unapproachability of executives.  There is often an overlay of formalness, and some times rigidness, as well. You will often see bitter internal competition between managers and teams.

In Canonical we don’t have this. We replace all of that with a simple (unwritten) concept (or really, a culture): Brotherhood (or Fraternity if you prefer).  Everyone is your brother or sister. Everyone is approachable.  This feeling is so strong that we often hug each other in greeting and parting or at the very least give each other a two arm handshake, high five,  or a strong slap on the back.  If you thought this was the exclusive realm of Daniel Holbach, or something tied to romantic interests, think again. This is the only company I’ve worked for where I can meet the COO in the hallway and a spontaneous hug ensues, and likewise get bear hugged by one of my employees.  Even Mark, who is normally reserved, will walk up to you and give you a slap on your back and ask you have you have been.

You want proof? Scour the Internet for pictures from Canonical company events and Ubuntu UDS events. Or better yet, go to one of these yourself. Here are some pictures I took in passing last week:

Once you’ve worked in such a supportive and close-knit group it’s hard to imagine working anywhere else. The good news is that you don’t have to work for Canonical to gain access to this spirit. You can practice this at UDS and in your local Ubuntu teams. Some people may start refering to this concept as the “Church of Canonical” or some other weirdness but in fact it’s not. It’s Ubuntu. Remember, Ubuntu is an African concept of ‘humanity towards others’. It is ‘the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity’.  Canonical simply is “drinking the Ubuntu Kool-aid” and I for one am damn proud of it and to work here.

If you have photographic evidence of this culture, please post links in the comments to this post!  Maybe some cultural anthropologist Ph.D. candidate will want to examine this further. :-)

Joey Stanford

Leading with Kindness

I did some analysis work for a group in Canonical last November and December.  It was really interesting for me and a rewarding experience but as I was writing and revising my final report I kept feeling more and more uneasy about the way I articulated my findings. I realized a bit too late that I still had some New York attitude left in me.  It’s good to be engaged and excited about what you are doing, especially when it helps others, but to do so with an aggressive posture is not.  I’ve been trying to cultivate “champa”, “Loving Kindness” in Tibetan, and “Sheshin”, “Awareness” in Tibetan,  and after all was said and done this report showed me I had more room for improvement.

One of the nice things about practicing and leading with kindness at work is that it makes your workplace a better, more enjoyable, and more productive place. One study suggests a 30% improvement in productivity.

Last night I saw a wonderful show on PBS called “Leading from Kindness”.  It’s based on the book “Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results”. The show really resonated with me and what I’ve slowly been learning over my career.  I do believe that cultivating this style of leadership is essential in engaging and retaining superior employees as well as transforming organizations into very high performance teams.

I’ve had good luck practicing this style on my direct reports in Canonical.

The only caveat seems to be that folks who have never been in an organization that respects them as individuals can sometimes confuse kindess with weakness.  When you see this mistake being made, a gentle nudge seems to resolve it.

My hope is that others can benefit from this approach.

Joey Stanford

Using BitTorrent instead of a mirror

I’ve been playing around with an experiment using BitTorrent to get my normal updates and install files.   Speed-wise for me, it’s slower than a local mirror (except when the mirror is under heavy load at which point it’s much faster (e.g. beta release)). Note: If you’re not comfortable with the command line, despite how cool this looks, you’ll not want to do it. Stop now. :-)

  1. Install apt-p2p (e.g. sudo apt-get install apt-p2p)
  2. Backup your sources.list (e.g. sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.backup)
  3. Replace your local mirror with “localhost:9977/”.  Note: DO NOT REPLACE security.ubuntu.com. It probably would work but that would be an unwise security decision. Do not use this Launchpad PPAs.
  4. Do an apt-get update (e.g. sudo apt-get update).  The first update will take some time but future updates are close to normal speed.
  5. You will want to forward the ports for apt-p2p to your system (9977 TCP and UDP) so you can receive regular updates via BitTorrent. If not, you’ll have to get them on-demand which will be slower.

Yes, it is possible to use upgrade-manager to move to the next version of Ubuntu but I would caution against it. It’s much better to just download the .iso torrent, burn it, and do a disk upgrade.  However if you are adventurous, it will work.  To go back to normal, just copy your backup sources.list back to /etc/apt/sources.list (or you can use System->Administration->Software Sources and select a new mirror), uninstall apt-p2p, and run an apt-get update.

Here’s an example sources.list for Jaunty:
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty-security universe main multiverse restricted
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty main universe restricted multiverse
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty-updates universe main multiverse restricted
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty-backports universe main multiverse restricted
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.canonical.com/ubuntu jaunty partner

Joey Stanford

The Joey Stanford Conflict Theorem

I’ve been thinking about mdz’s recent posts on leadership and thought I’d present you with the working model of the Joey Stanford Conflict Theorem.

Conflict, in it’s most elemental form, is due to a lack of understanding. Conflict occurs for three basic, often inseparable, reasons:

1) Needs – When someone’s (or some team’s) needs are not met, conflict occurs.  If you find yourself disagreeing violently with someone, and them with you, or you seem to be talking past each other, stop a moment, release the emotion, and try to ask probing questions to uncover what the other person’s need(s) is that has not been met. Then think about yourself, and try to understand your need. Your next task is then to call those needs out and work cooperatively with the other person to address those needs. This is easier said than done especially when the “active discussions” are really “heated arguments”.  This approach though is your exit ramp on the circle (or roundabout) of disagreement and fosters understanding.

2) Values – These are what drive your actions. Everyone and every team has differing values. Sometimes they are closely aligned, sometimes not. We very often chose to do, or not to do, something based upon our valuation of that activity.  When you are overloaded, you often drop the “nice to haves/nice to dos” because they are a low priority. They are a low priority because you don’t value them as high as other things. You can express these values in different ways. Here’s one example:  “I/We place a high value on <some activity or quality> and therefore I/we will <prioritize/mandate/restrict/prevent> <something> so <activity or quality> is ever-present.”  e.g. “We place a high value on code reviews and therefore we will mandate universal code reviews (so code reviews are always done)”  If you do not value something as much as someone else, or vice versa, it opens the door to conflict. This is because the higher valued items become NEEDS and these NEEDS are unmet.

3) Trust – mdz noted that the more you trust someone, the less you tend to communicate. The converse is also true, the less you trust someone, the more you NEED to communicate. If your trust level is low and you can’t communicate often and effectively then you have a NEED that is not met. If the other person is not communicating with you, it’s most likely due to one or more of the following reasons: a) they don’t realize you have this NEED and you should tell them, b) they don’t VALUE communication in the same way you do, or c) they have a NEED which is unmet.

The key to resolving conflict is understanding.  Being forceful, emotional, or withdrawn doesn’t work.  You need to reach out and discover/uncover the cause.

Joey Stanford

Take Me Out to Ubuntu

Phil Shapiro from PC World’s Community Voices blog has done it again. I think he’s missed his calling as a comedian. :-)   This time it’s with Take Me Out to Ubuntu.  Quick link to the ogg file.  More on Phil over at Linux.com.

Joey Stanford

The Ubuntu Nokia experiment

Own a Nokia device? Use Ubuntu and love the community?  Read on…

Despite the insurgence of Android phones, I still see a large amount of Nokia phones (and Nokia employees) at developer summits and conferences.  Aside from producing great phones and devices which use open source software, Nokia also has been good about “connecting people” in various ways.  I thought it would be fun to try a simple experiment which connects Ubuntu users with Nokia devices.

I’ve created the Ubuntu Nokia Users team in Launchpad complete with a recommended set of software for your devices.  This is an open group and anyone may join.  This experiment (and team) has two aims:

  1. Self-Help: Helping users connect to their Nokia devices (phones and tablets) in Ubuntu and getting the most out of their experience as well as discussions about how to get Ubuntu onto Nokia devices.
  2. Comradeship: A social experiment to connect Ubuntu users with Nokia devices together.

I also hope that this experiment will draw in some developers to improve the experience of using Nokia devices in, and using, Ubuntu.  There is already an existing community-led  Ubuntu Nokia Development group if you are interested.

As with all experiments, the future is uncertain so your participation is vital in determining this team’s fate.  Do join in!

Joey Stanford

OOo Meet the NL/L10N People Posters

The NL/L10N team of OpenOffice has created two “Meet the NL/L10N People” posters.  I see a few familiar faces in there (including mine). Thanks goes to Hiranosan for assembling these.

nl_l10n_people_poster_01nl_l10n_people_poster_02

Joey Stanford

Graphical IP Blocker

I ran across iplist today and thought I’d blog about it.  iplist is a simple list based packet handler which uses the netfilter netlink-queue library.  There is a setup how-to on the forums which pulls the program from a Launchpad PPA.  It’s interesting to see the list of items this finds.

screenshot