Dev-Jam 2013: Day Five

The final day of Dev-Jam came all too soon. Several people headed out Friday morning, but we still had a nice crew of 20+ for a return trip to the Town Hall Brewery on Friday night.

I often joke that Dev-Jam is my favorite Holiday outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it’s funny ’cause it’s true. I think the best way to sum it up is from Jeff Genender, Apache contributor and first time Dev-Jam attendee:

As an Apache stakeholder, I can honestly say you have a fantastic community and you guys exceed doing things “right”. Keep up the fantastic work and thank you sincerely for the fantastic hospitality and a great Dev Jam.

Until next year.

Dev-Jam 2013: Day Four

Thursday was a pretty exciting day for me. We started seeing some changes to the codebase (capsd was deprecated in favor of provisiond, the ticketer plugins are now separate packages) and Markus N. and Matt R. demonstrated a new site built on Rails to manage community configuration contributions (and I got to practice my alliteration).

I spent the morning in downtown Minneapolis. I noticed that there was an extremely tall building called The Capella Tower. Capella University has been using OpenNMS since the 1.2 days, and while we’ve been working with them for many years I’ve never met them in person.

For some reason I thought they were headquartered in Chicago, but I think that was because they advertise on the subway trains there. Anyway, I dropped Will a note and asked if he was in the Capella Tower, and he invited me out.

It was cool to see their operation as well as the changes they’ve made to their instance of OpenNMS. OpenNMS is a platform, and it really starts to shine when it is customized, and Capella has done a great job with it.

I offered to take the team to lunch, and they suggested we hit the food trucks. All around downtown you can find some amazing food, especially on Marquette.

We hit one called “Get Sauced“. Now, being from North Carolina, we elevate the cooking of pork to near religious status, so I tend to be very critical of pork BBQ, but Get Sauced did not disappoint. It was easy to see why their BBQ sauce has won at the State Fair for three years in a row.

They also had something called “Mexican Corn”. It was grilled, fresh corn removed from the cob and seasoned. It was wonderful.

After I left Capella I took the opportunity to play a little Ingress and managed to level to Level 5. I haven’t been playing much (most of the people who started when I did are around L7) but I managed to gain about 50K AP this week without much effort due to the density of portals in the area.

We also took our group photo today. Unfortunately, Jeff Prime had to leave early due to a personal reason and missed the pic, but the rest of us made it. Thanks to Donald for taking the picture.

Thursday night was Twins night. Starting with last year we’ve taken everyone at Dev-Jam out to the ball game, and this year it was cool because we had a couple of Royals fans in the group as well (plus the Europeans who had absolutely no idea what was going on – which is how I feel about cricket).

We all wore our new polos, and so we made quite an impression next to the local marching band that was also in uniform.

And the blue and black made us easy to spot in the stands.

Like last year, we were appropriately in far right field, but we were also joined by this lovely young lady (posing here with Ulf).

She sang the national anthem before the game. I love the fact that the performance of The Star Spangled Banner is and of itself a sporting event, as it is extremely difficult to sing. She did a great job and nailed the high note at the end.

It was a lovely evening, although since both pitchers did a great job the game itself was less than exciting. The Twins pulled off the win, however.

I like to think we had a hand in that. (grin)

[Note: Ben posted a lot more of his pictures from the game here.]

Dev-Jam 2013: Day Three

We are now more than halfway through Dev-Jam and the energy level remains high.

Well, at least it looks like everyone is working, as a non-coder I’m not sure exactly what is going on but folks seem to be having a lot of fun. (grin)

I’ve been coming here for many years now, but I never managed to visit the Weisman Art Museum on campus. It is a very distinctive building.

Richard and I decided to go, and it is pretty cool. The building is designed to let in a lot of natural light without any of it directly hitting the pieces. They have lots of paintings, plus some photographs, sculptures and pottery. I especially liked this piece:

but I couldn’t help thinking “four elements surrounding a fifth … a Fifth Element”.

Wednesday is traditionally cookout day, but as we grow it is becoming a lot more work to man the grill.

Between the hamburgers, local sausages and leftover Brasa we had tons of food.

Last year Mike and DJ made homemade Jeni’s ice cream. Now, that was a lot of work, so this year we just outsourced it to Izzy’s, which, while not Jeni’s was still pretty awesome.

And what better way to end the evening than with a little Army of Darkness.

Dev-Jam 2013: Day Two

One of the coolest things to come out of Day Two was an OpenNMS Chrome Extension.

Dominick and Saqib from Datavalet plan to submit this to the Chrome Store, but for now you can get the beta here.

One installed, you just need to add in your server credentials under the “Options” tab.

Then, disable and re-enable the plugin and you should start seeing pop-ups for alarms within your OpenNMS instance.

Pretty cool.

We also spent some time working on performance issues in the build. The best comment I heard about the modern OpenNMS was from Matt, who stated that if there was a Java library that wasn’t included in OpenNMS, that was an oversight.

But the funniest comment of the day came from Ben. I was talking about how fast we are growing and how we need to hire more people, and I was asked about what qualifications I was looking for in candidates. I went over a few of them, but I said the most important thing was “no sh*tty people”, as we have a great team and I don’t want to ruin it.

Ben replied, “I guess Rule Number One is: no number two”


For dinner, we once again had Brasa cater in, and once again it was amazing.

We’ll be eating leftovers for the rest of the week.

Dev-Jam 2013: Day One

My role at Dev-Jam is purely an organizational one. As someone who doesn’t code much, if at all, I always describe myself more as Julie the Cruise Director, just here to make this a great week.

I do, however, reserve the right to open the conference, so at 10am Monday morning I got to address the folks who had come here to spend the week. I also got to distribute this year’s OpenNMS polos which are a new offering from Lands’ End and are made of that newfangled “tech” fabric. I then turned over the meeting to Matt Brozowski, who as the project’s lead architect, gets to do most of the heavy lifting this week.

Speaking of shirts, I found a cool one at HeroesCon that I bought just for Dev-Jam in honor of our mascot, Ulf.

Dev-Jam is more than just coding. Mike brought in a collection of Raspberry Pis to show off some of the projects he’s been working on:

and DJ brought even more electronic gear as he is working on a cool stoplight integration with OpenNMS:

His soldering iron came in handy when Richard, who is doing an audio segment on our community, had a cable malfunction. Dustin was able to use DJ’s tools to fix it.

Mike also showed off this interesting little app he found for the iPhone that allows it to autorotate using the vibration alert built in to the phone. Here is the video that introduced him to it:

Such a talented group.

They also can eat, so thanks to Chris over at Papa Johns we had a pizza feast at dinner.

If you are following the wiki, you can see what’s being worked on this week.

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Note: I don’t think there are spoilers here, but if you are overly sensitive, don’t read on.

I think it was Ben that introduced me to Neil Gaiman. Actually, that isn’t true. Howard let me read his Sandman comics in college, as long as I was careful and I read them in his dorm room. He didn’t have many, since they had just come out, but as someone who always thought comics books were only about super heroes, I found them fascinating. But I still thought about them as comics and not books, and so I focused more on the “Sandman” part than the “author” part, as much as I still think of “Superman” and “Batman” and not the people who make the stories and the pictures.

So I guess it was still Ben who introduced me to Neil Gaiman the author. The book was American Gods and it was spectacular. Amazing. I read it and then immediately re-read it. It cemented me as a Gaiman fan forever.

From there I read Neverwhere, and I can never ride the London Underground without thinking about it. Then there was Stardust, which I liked but it didn’t “wow” me. And I realized I had read him as a co-author since I had read Good Omens, but I remembered more the Terry Prattchet side of that novel.

I was very eager for his post-Gods work, and I bought Anansi Boys the day it was released. It was solid, but while Gods was an elaborate, multi-course meal, Anansi Boys was more of a well crafted dessert. I began to wonder if Gaiman had peaked. That would be nothing to be ashamed of, since American Gods is a masterpiece, but I wondered if it would be the masterpiece.

So I bought The Ocean at the End of the Lane sight unseen and got it the day it was released. The first thing that hit me was the slimness of this book. It is tiny. It weighs in at a mere 181 pages. I don’t own many hardbacks that small, and I just looked up Damage by Josephine Hart, which I thought was small, and it clocks in at 208 pages. While 27 pages doesn’t sound like much, that is a full 15% of Ocean.

I figure I’ll be vilified by at least one of my three readers for harping about the size of this book, but I feel that when writing a review the reader needs to understand my biases, and I was expecting a full novel and not a novella. And let’s be clear, this is a novella. There is one story plot told from a single point of view where most of the action takes place over a couple of days. The problem is that there is no market for novellas, yet someone with Gaiman’s star power can manage to sell one as a novel.

Despite that, it is a brilliant story. It is told from the point of view of a seven year old boy who lives in Sussex. After an unfortunate death, he starts to experience strange events. In trying to understand them, he is introduced to a family that lives on a farm down the lane from his house. The family consists of three women: one old, one young and one middle aged (an obvious reference to the Fates). The youngest one, Lettie, takes him on an adventure to help solve these strange events with dire consequences.

Gaiman is a great storyteller, and while I enjoyed the whole book I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I think he has done so many children’s books and screenplays in recent years that the long form eludes him. It would be nearly impossible to craft a novel on par with Gods with all of the different projects in which he is involved. In reading the on-line reviews, many state proudly “I read it in one sitting!”. Well, who couldn’t? This is pretty much a children’s book with one or two young adult scenes, and I thought I was getting an adult novel I could sink my teeth into.

Fanboys prepare your flame throwers.

I will probably buy anything he writes, but for the next one I won’t pre-order it. I’ll wait and see what it is, and I’ll try to set my expectations properly.

2013 Southeast Linuxfest and HeroesCon

This is a very delayed post of this year’s Southeast Linuxfest (SELF) that happened the weekend of 7-9 June. Suffice it to say that my life of late has been overtaken by events.

SELF is one of my favorite shows, and since this year (like last) it was in Charlotte, I really didn’t have an excuse not to go since it is an easy drive from home. I submitted a paper and was surprised to be asked to do the keynote. I take keynotes very seriously, so it meant a little extra work but I was looking forward to it (I still resent that Jono Bacon got a ten minute keynote spot at OSCON a few years back and spent it telling everyone to come to his main talk instead of being the awe-inspiring dynamic speaker he can be – I would rock that opportunity).

Also, since the company is doing very well this year, I decided to hire MC Frontalot to perform in the hope that it would convince people on the fence to come to the conference, and also because it gives me an excuse to hang out with him.

Thus I found out that on the same weekend and just down the street, the annual HeroesCon comic book convention was going on. This was the same weekend as the North Carolina State Republican Party convention (so we decided to call the scene at the Convention Center “Republicans vs. Zombies”) and the street faire “Taste of Charlotte“.

Busy busy busy.

As we were looking for lunch on Friday at the street faire, I got a cool pic of Frontalot in front of the NASCAR museum:

I also found out that he was in the third issue of The Walking Dead comic book series. He knows Tony Moore, one of the original creators, and he shows up as a fairly recognizable zombie:

The keynote went pretty well, so I thought, and I’ve been told it will be posted in the future (these things take some time to edit). After my talk a bunch of people came up to me, which is pretty common. Usually, about half want to say “hi” and the other half want to tell me where I went wrong. I actually enjoy talking both types. We talked until it was close to the time for the next talk to happen, and then we went out into the main lobby area of the show. One person asked if I remembered him, and while I am terrible with names I honestly didn’t recognize his face, but this was due to the fact that I hadn’t seen him in nearly 30 years. James and I had gone to high school together, and it was fun to run into him at SELF so that we could spend some time catching up.

I’ve been to enough of these conferences now that I know a number of folks, and it was nice to see Kevin Otte fighting the good fight in trying to get people to switch to IPv6 (due primarily to his efforts, I am running it at both the office and at home).

The only real downside involved the venue. The Blake Hotel has undergone something like a $10 million renovation, and while I thought my room was nice, the conference part had some issues. I don’t pretend to speak for the organizers, but I was frustrated by the fact that at the 11th hour they changed the venue for the after party to be 21 and older (a lot of the attendees are college age) and while the sound guy they recommended was professional, I found out later that they gouged me on the price, charging about four times what it should have cost. I hope that SELF decides not to return there.

Despite the age limit, we had a decent turnout for the show and folks seemed to enjoy it. We had the local nerdcore duo, theThoughtCriminals, open so it turned into a “proper” concert, complete with encore.

Despite a few hiccups, especially with Friday morning registration, I would judge the conference a success, especially seeing the great attendance for the Sunday morning sessions (they tend to be a little sparse, especially first thing in the morning). I look forward to next year’s show.

Dev-Jam 2013: Day Zero

Once again the core of the OpenNMS community has descended on the campus of the University of Minnesota for Dev-Jam.

This is our eighth Dev-Jam in nine years, and the sixth one be to be held at Yudof Hall. The facilities are top-notch and we especially like the Yudof Club Room. This is a very large room in the basement of the dorm, complete with a brick balcony that overlooks the Mississippi River. On one end are couches and a large screen TV. In the middle we set up tables for working.

At the other end is a kitchen. Now, a rather well stocked kitchen.

I got in Sunday evening. This year I brought my friend Richard who is a freelance radio producer (you can hear him on NPR) to produce a story on the OpenNMS community. Mike Huot (one of the major Dev-Jam organizers and also the person responsible for the longest commercial support contract for OpenNMS – first bought in 2001) and I were reflecting on how awesome this conference has become over time, and whether or not we want to grow much beyond the 30+ people coming this year.

Luckily, the Town Hall Brewery could support all of us, although for most of the week we’ll order out.

Sign o’ the Times

I started working in our building on June 3rd, 2003, so we’ve been here for over ten years. Granted, while we have several rooms now, when we started out the three of us share one 10 foot by 15 foot room (currently my office), it is still cool to know that for a decade the OpenNMS goodness has been in this spot.

So I thought it was time we had a sign.

We Have the Champions

Almost every customer we have starts out with one person with the vision to switch from expensive proprietary software such as OpenView or Tivoli to OpenNMS. We refer to them as “internal champions” and without them OpenNMS wouldn’t exist. They are the ones who find OpenNMS, explore its power and then convince their organizations to use it.

One of those people is Eddie van Zanten.

Eddie works for the Ministry of Defense for the Netherlands. They have been using OpenNMS for many years now, and they sent a bunch of people to the US for training. When you come to training you get an OpenNMS polo shirt, but Eddie wasn’t one of them. However, the operation of OpenNMS fell to him. His coworker Dennis Waanders wrote to me:

One guy is doing the implementation of OpenNMS in our department. And he is been busy with it for over two years now. Without him OpenNMS would have died a slow death within our department. He alone is keeping OpenNMS alive within our department. At this moment some OpenNMS features are implemented and ready for monitoring and now people in our organisation do see the benefits of OpenNMS. All because of the persistence of one guy. One guy who had faith in the use of OpenNMS.

That is pretty much the definition of an internal champion.

So I sent Eddie a one of a kind OpenNMS pullover, which he is proudly wearing in the picture above. We are here because of people like him.