Friday, October 31, 2008

So Long Archway


I knew Mother's was going out of business, but I didn't know that Archway was the same company and that there would be no more Archway cookies either. I loved Archway cookies when I was kid, I thought they were so special because there were less in a pack than Chips Ahoy. Or something. Still, I'm sad to not have them anymore.

Damnit people, think of the cookies! Fix the economy, vote for Obama.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008



Sunday, October 26, 2008



It's fall in Milwaukee and the colors are great. I took some pictures last week, and they're linked below. After being in the south for 10ish years, it's nice to see trees turn a color other than a bland murky brownish-grey.

We've also gotten the chance to do some other great fall things like: roast a turkey breast, have apple cider, light a fire in the fireplace, and go get a pumpkin from a local church that was selling them on their front lawn. We're going to try to carve the pumpkin today before the trick-or-treaters show up. It's supposed to be cold (windy, with a possibility of flurries) tonight so we'll probably do another fire too. This place is pretty freakin' awesome. Winter, I fear, will suck but so far the rest of the seasons seem to make it worthwhile.

Another fall tradition is voting, which we did early here in Milwaukee. If you can, go do it now.

Fall in the neighborhood

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Constraints are good

I may have written about this in the past.. I dunno. Also, someone seems to have put extra zen in my coffee this morning, so consider this a pontification warning.

If you check out this blog posting by Jamis Buck at 37Signals about embracing constraints, Jamis talks about self-immolation due to neato-creep and how important it is to realize the real world issues and separate them from the coolness factor issues you may have in your head. Part of me agrees with this -- part of me also thinks that sometimes we need to make the kinds of mistakes Jamis talks about in order to learn. If "less is more" then you need to understand more before you can understand less. That journey is incredibly valuable and I think Jamis' post is mildly dismissive of that. I don't think it was his intention to do so, but I think it bears pointing out the value of experience.

I think more importantly, his posting made me remember why I think the "embrace your constraints" is a valuable idiom. To me, it's because your constraints create the context in which you make decisions and by embracing your constraints you're lead to a better understanding of Why you're doing what you're doing. It means you can look at the environment, not just the moss on the side of the tree.

Why is this important for System Administration? I've too often seen admins get upset because the situation wasn't optimum for the conception of a system they had in their head. Instead of stepping back, embracing the constraints, and progressing toward their goal with a new understanding of the context, they'll shut down and not do anything, or rant-and-rave and make others fall into their line, or just do what they wanted in the first place and say "damn the torpedoes!" ignoring the constraints and end up with more enterprise cruft. That never works well for anyone and I think is a major reason why smart people hate enterprises.

Embracing constraints requires thoughtful reflection of the situation. Not doing so creates a toxic environment of anti-intellectualism [1].

Look at any ERP or Business Intelligence implementation and then look at what it replaced, and you'll see that the names are different but the larger issues are probably the same. It's because those systems, in a very real-world way, interface not just at data levels, but at context levels. They push and pull data that has a meta-value in the context of that data. Most people don't look at those contexts, or the corollary constraints those contexts give. So you end up with large brittle systems that mingle meaning and action and break when either change.

So, I guess, I don't think "embracing your constraints" as something of a trendy productivity enhancement catchphrase. Instead, I think it's a mantra for doing.

1 - Why is it toxic? Programming, System Administration, and computing in general all deal with virtual, logical, ephemeral things. They can and do change rapidly. Taking an anti-intellectual stance towards your environment means you'll never grow or learn with those things and always be in a reactionary, fire-fighting mode of operation. And you won't even know it. If you read The Daily WTF? you'll see examples of this every day. It's sad, really.

Livna -> RPMFusion migration

Thorsten Leemhuis writes to remind us about the loss of the Livna mailing lists and the continuing migration of the Livna repos for Fedora to the RPMFusion repos announces a few months ago.

If you're a Livna, FreshRPMS, or Dribble user (and if you have an nvida card, ati card, mp3, or dvd around, you most probably are) you should probably start taking heed of the changes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

live blogging and iphone

I live blogged a bunch of reactions to the debate tonight. Sadly, I did so on my iPhone whihc really isn't the greatest tool for that, so the spelling and posting is funkified.