pleia2's blog: Autumn in Philadelphia

I spent this past week in Philadelphia. For those of you following along at home, I was there just a month before, for FOSSCON and other time with friends. This time our trip was also purposeful, we were in town for the gravestone unveiling for MJ’s grandmother, to celebrate my birthday with Philly friends and to work on a secret mission (secret until November).

Before all that, I spent some time enjoying the city upon arrival. The first morning I was there I got in early and a friend picked me up at the airport. After breakfast we headed toward the Philadelphia Zoo. We killed some time with a walk before making our way up to the zoo itself, where I insisted we spend a bit of time watching the street cars (they call them trolleys) on the SEPTA Route 15 that goes right past the zoo. These SEPTA PCC cars are direct relatives to the ones that run in San Francisco, in fact, San Francisco bought a large portion of their PCC fleet directly from SEPTA several decades ago. Almost all the PCC cars you see running on the F-line in San Francisco are from Philadelphia. It was fun to have some time to hang out and enjoy the cars in their home city.

And of course the zoo! I’ve been to the zoo a few times, but it’s a nice sized one and I always enjoy going. I don’t remember them having an aye-aye exhibit, so it was nice to see that, particularly since the one at the San Francisco Zoo has been closed for some time. The penguins are always great to see, and the red pandas are super adorable.


Humboldt penguins at the Philadelphia Zoo

More photos from the zoo here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157673262888271

Tuesday I spent working and spending time with my friend Danita. Camped out on her couch I got a pile of work done and later in the evening we went out to do a bit of shopping. That evening MJ arrived in Philadelphia from a work trip he was on and picked me up to grab some dinner.

Wednesday morning was the gravestone unveiling. According to Jewish tradition, this ceremony is completed approximately a year after the passing of your loved one and coincides with the conclusion of the year of mourning. We had 10 people there, and though the weather did threaten rain, it held out as we made our way through some words about her life, prayers and quiet moments together. Afterwards the family attending all went out to lunch together.

Thursday’s big event was my 35th birthday! In the morning I went out Core Creek Park a few miles from our hotel to go out for a run. The weather wasn’t entirely cooperative, but I wasn’t about to be put off by a hint of drizzle. It was totally the right thing to do, I parked near the lake in the park and did a run/walk of a couple miles on a trail around that edge of the park. I saw a deer, lots of birds and was generally pleased with the sights. I love autumn in Philadelphia and this was such a perfect way to experience it.

That night MJ drove us down to the city and met up with a whole pile of friends (Danita, Crissi, Mike and Jess, Jon, David, Tim, Mike and Heidi, Walt, and Paul) for a birthday party at The Continental near Penn’s Landing. I love this place. We had our wedding party dinner here, and we eat here, or at the mid-town location, almost every time we’re in town. MJ and Danita had reserved a private room which allowed for mingling throughout the night. Danita helped me pick out some killer shoes that I had fun wearing with my awesome dress and I drank a lot of Twizzle martinis (Smirnoff citrus, strawberry puree, lemon, red licorice wheel) along with all the spectacular food they brought to our tables through the night. There was also a delicious walnut-free carrot cake …with only 5 candles, which was appreciated, hah! Did I mention I drank a lot of martinis? It was an awesome night, my friends are the best.

Late Friday and into Saturday were secret mission days, but I took some time for work like every day and we also got to see friends and family both days. I also was able to get down to the hotel gym on Saturday morning to visit the treadmill and spend some time in the pool.

Our flight took us home to our kitties on Saturday evening. I’ve been incredibly stressed out lately with a lot going on with my career (work, book, other open source things) and personally (where to begin…), but it was a very good trip over all.

Rosh Hashanah begins tonight and means a day of observation tomorrow too. Tuesday and Wednesday are packed with work and spending evenings with MJ before I fly off again on Thursday. This time to Ohio for the Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus where my talk is A Tour of OpenStack Deployment Scenarios. While I’m there I also have plans to meet up with my Ubuntu community friends (including going to the Columbus Zoo!) and most of the crew I went to Ghana with in 2012.

pleia2's blog: MUNI Heritage Weekend

Before heading to Philadelphia last weekend I took time to spend Saturday with my friend Mark at MUNI Heritage Weekend. As an active transit advocate in San Francisco, Mark is a fun person to attend such an event with. I like to think I know a fair amount about things on rails in San Francisco, but he’s much more knowledgeable about transit in general.

I was pretty excited about this day, I was all decked out in my cable car earrings and Seashore Trolley Museum t-shirt.

The day began with a walk down Market to meet Mark near the railway museum, which was the center of all the activity for the day. I arrived a bit early and spent my time snapping pictures of all the interesting streetcars and buses coming around. When we met up our first adventure was to take a ride on our first vintage bus of the day, the 5300!

Now, as far as vintage goes, the 5300 doesn’t go very far back in history. This bus was an electric from 1975 and it had a good run, still riding around the city just over a decade ago. This was a long ride, taking us down Howard, South Van Ness, all the way down to Mission and 25th street, then back to the railway museum. It took about 45 minutes, during which time Mark and I had lots of time to catch up.

We then had some time to walk around a bit and see what else was out. Throughout the day we saw one of the Blackpool “boat” streetcars, the Melbourne streetcar (which I still haven’t ridden in!) the Number 1 streetcar and more.

Next up was a ride on the short 042 from 1938! This was a fun one, it’s the oldest bus in the fleet and the blog post about the event had this to say:

A surprise participant was Muni’s oldest bus, the 042, built in 1938 by the White Motor Company. Its engine had given up the ghost, but the top-notch mechanics at Woods Motor Coach Division swapped it out for one in a White bus Market Street Railway’s Paul Wells located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and repatriated. The 042 operated like a dream looping around Union Square all weekend, as did 1970 GMC “fishbowl” 3287, shown behind it

Pretty cool! As the quote suggests, it was not electric so it was able to do its own thing in the Union Square loop, in a ride that only took about 20 minutes.

Then, more viewing of random cars. I think the highlight of my time then was getting to see the 578 “dinky” close up. Built in 1896, this street car looks quite a bit like a cable car, making it a distinctive sight among all the other street cars.

By then we were well into the late afternoon and decided to grab some late lunch. Continuing our transit-related day, I took him up Howard street to get a view of the progress on the new Transbay Transit Center. After walking past it on street level, we went up to the roof deck where we live to get some views and pictures from up above.

This was definitely a bus-heavy heritage day for me, but it was fun. Lots more photos from the day here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157674240825576

That evening it was time for me to get off the buses and rails to take another form of transportation, I was off to Philadelphia on a plane!

pleia2's blog: Yak Coloring

A couple cycles ago I asked Ronnie Tucker, artist artist and creator of Full Circle Magazine, to create a werewolf coloring page for the 15.10 release (details here). He then created another for Xenial Xerus, see here.

He’s now created one for the upcoming Yakkety Yak release! So if you’re sick of all the yak shaving you’re doing as we prepare for this release, you may consider giving yak coloring a try.

But that’s not the only yak! We have Tom Macfarlane in the Canonical Design Team once again for sending me the SVG to update the Animal SVGs section of the Official Artwork page on the Ubuntu wiki. They’re sticking with a kind of origami theme this time for our official yak.

Download the SVG version for printing from the wiki page or directly here.

pleia2's blog: Beer and trains in Germany

I spent most of this past week in Germany with the OpenStack Infrastructure and QA teams doing a sprint at the SAP offices in Walldorf, I wrote about it here.

The last (and first!) time I was in Germany was for the same purpose, a sprint, that time in Darmstadt where I snuck in a tiny amount of touristing but due troubles with my gallbladder, I could have any fried foods or beer. Well, I had one beer to celebrate Germany winning the World Cup, but I regretted it big time.

This time was different, finally I could have liters of German beer! And I did. The first night there I even had some wiener schnitzel (fried veal!), even if we were all too tired from our travels to leave the hotel that night. We went out to beer gardens every other night after that, taking in the beautiful late summer weather and enjoying great beers.


Photo in the center by Chris Hoge (source)

But I have a confession to make: I don’t like pilsners and that makes Belgium my favorite beer country in Europe. Still, Germany has quite the title. Fortunately while they are the default, pilsners were not my only option. I indulged in dark lagers and hefeweizens all week. Our evening in Heidelberg I also had an excellent Octoberfest Märzen by Heidelberger, which was probably my favorite beer of the whole trip.

Now I’m getting ahead of myself because I was excited about all the beer. I arrived on Sunday, sadly much later than I had intended. My original flights had been rescheduled so ended up meeting my colleague Clark at the Frankfurt airport around 4PM to catch our trains to Walldorf. The train station is right there in the airport, and clear signs meant a no fuss transfer halfway through our journey to get to the next train. We were on the trains for about an hour before arriving at Wiesloch-Walldorf station. A ten Euro cab ride then got us to the hotel where we met up with several other colleagues for drinks.

Of course we were there to work, so that’s what we spend 9-5 each day doing, but the evenings were ours to explore our little corner of Germany. The first night we just walked into Walldorf after work and enjoyed drinks and food until the sun went down. Walldorf is a very cute little town and the outdoor seating at the beer garden we went to was a wonderful treat, especially since the weather was so warm and clear. We spent Wednesday night in Walldorf too.

More photos from Walldorf here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157670828593814/

Tuesday night was our big night out. We all headed out to the nearby Heidelberg for a big group dinner. After parking, we had a lovely short walk to the restaurant which took me by a shop that sold post cards! I picked up a trio of cards for my mother and sisters, as I typically do when traveling. The walk also gave a couple of us time to take pictures of the city before the sun went down.

Dinner was at Zum Weissen Schwanen (The White Swan). That was my four beer night.

After the meal several of us took a nice walk around the city a bit more. We got to look up and see the massive, lit up, Heidelberg Castle. It’s a pretty exceptional place, I’d love to properly visit some time. The post cards I sent to family all included the castle.

The drive back to the hotel was fun too. I got a tiny taste of the German autobahn as we got up to 220 kilometers per hour on our way back to the hotel before our exit came up. Woo!

My pile of Heidelberg photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157674174957385

Thursday morning was my big morning of trains. I flew into Frankfurt like everyone else, but I flew home out of Dusseldorf because it was several hundred dollars cheaper. The problem is Walldorf and Dusseldorf aren’t exactly close, but I could spend a couple hours on European ICE (Inter-City Express) and get there. MJ highly recommended I try it out since I like trains, and with the simplicity of routing he convinced me to take a route from Mannheim all the way to Dusseldorf Airport with one simple connection, which just required walking across the platform.

I’m super thankful he convinced me to take the trains. The ticket wasn’t very expensive and I really do like trains. In addition to being reasonably priced, they’re fast, on time and all the signs were great so I didn’t feel worried about getting lost or ending up in the wrong place. The signs even report where each coach will show up on the platform so I had no trouble figuring out where to stand to get to my assigned seat.

I took a few more pictures while on my train adventure, here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157670930346613

And so I spent a couple hours on my way to Dusseldorf. I was a bit tired since my first train left the station at 7:36AM, so I mostly just listened to music and stared out the window. My flight out of Dusseldorf was uneventful, and was a direct to San Francisco so I was able to come home to my kitties in the early evening. Unfortunately MJ had left home the day before, so I’ll have to wait until we’re both in Philadelphia next week to see him.

pleia2's blog: OpenStack QA/Infrastructure Meetup in Walldorf

I spent this week in the lovely town of Walldorf, Germany with about 25 of my OpenStack Quality Assurance and Infrastructure colleagues. We were there for a late-cycle sprint, where we all huddled in a couple of rooms for three days to talk, script and code our way through some challenges that are much easier to tackle when all the key players are in a room together. QA and Infra have always been a good match for an event like this since we’re so tightly linked as things QA works on are supported by and tested in the Continuous Integration system we run.

Our venue this time around were the SAP offices in Walldorf. They graciously donated the space to us for this event, and kept us blessedly fed, hydrated and caffeinated throughout the day.

Each day we enjoyed a lovely walk from and to the hotel many of us stayed at. We lucked out and there wasn’t any rain while we were there so we got to take in the best of late summer weather in Germany. Our walk took us through a corn field, past flowers, gave us a nice glimpse at the town of Walldorf on the other side of the highway and then began in on the approach to the SAP buildings of which there are many.

The first day began with an opening from our host at the SAP offices, Marc Koderer and by the QA project lead Ken’ichi Ohmichi. From there we went through the etherpad for the event to figure out where to begin. A big chunk of the Infrastructure team went to their own room to chat about Zuulv3 and some of the work on Ansible, and a couple of us hung back with the QA team to move some of their work along.

Spending time with the QA folks I learned about future plans for a more useful series of bugday graphs. I also worked with Spencer Krum and Matt Treinish to land a few patches related to the new Firehose service. Firehose is a MQTT-based unified message bus that seeks to encompass all the developer-facing infra alerts and updates in a single stream. This includes job results from Gerrit, updates on bugs from Launchpad, specific logs that are processed by logstash and more. At the beginning of the sprint only Gerrit was feeding into it using germqtt, but by the end of Monday we had Launchpad bugs submitting events over email via lpmqtt. The work was mostly centered around setting up Cyrus with Exim and then configuring the accounts and MX records, and trying to do this all in a way that the rest of the team would be happy with. All seems to have worked out, and at the end of the day Matt sent out an email announcing it: Announcing firehose.openstack.org.

That evening we gathered in the little town of Walldorf to have a couple beers, dinner, and relax in a lovely beer garden for a few hours as the sun went down. It was really nice to catch up with some of my colleagues that I have less day to day contact with. I especially enjoyed catching up with Yolanda and Gema, both of whom I’ve known for years through their past work at Canonical on Ubuntu. The three of us also were walk buddies back to the hotel, before which I demanded a quick photo together.

Tuesday morning we started off by inviting Khai Do over to give a quick demo of the Gerrit verify plugin. Now, Khai is one of us, so what do I mean by “come over”? Of all the places and times in the world, Khai was also at the SAP offices in Walldorf, Germany, but he was there for a Gerrit Hackathon. He brought along another Gerrit contributor and showed us how the verify plugin would replace our somewhat hacked into place Javascript that we currently have on our review pages to give a quick view into the test results. It also offers the ability in the web UI to run rechecks on tests, and will provide a page including history of all results through all the patchsets and queues. They’ve done a great job on it, and I was thrilled to see upstream Gerrit working with us to solve some of our problems.


Khai demos the Gerrit verify plugin

After Khai’s little presentation, I plugged my laptop into the projector and brought up the etherpad so we could spend a few minutes going over work that was done on Monday. A Zuulv3 etherpad had been worked on to capture a lot of the work from the Infrastructure team on Monday. Updates were added to our main etherpad about things other people worked on and reviews that were now pending to complete the work.

Groups then split off again, this time I followed most of the rest of the Infrastructure team into a room where we worked on infra-cloud, our infra-spun, fully open source OpenStack deployment that we started running a chunk of our CI tests on a few weeks ago. The key folks working on it gave a quick introduction and then we dove right into debugging some performance problems that were causing failed initial launches. This took us through poking at the Glance image service, rules in Neutron and defaults in the Puppet modules. A fair amount of multi-player (using screen) debugging was done up on the projector as we shifted around options, took the cloud out of the pool of servers for some time, and spent some time debugging individual compute nodes and instances as we watched what they did when they came up for the first time. In addition to our “vanilla” region, Ricardo Carrillo Cruz also made progress that day on getting our “chocolate” region working (next up: strawberry!).

I also was able to take some time on Tuesday to finally get notice and alert notifications going to our new @openstackinfra Twitter account. Monty Taylor had added support for this months ago, but I had just set up the account and written the patches to land it a few days before. We ran into one snafu, but a quick patch (thanks Andreas Jaeger!) got us on our way to automatically sending out our first Tweet. This will be fun, and I can stop being the unofficial Twitter status bot.

That evening we all piled into cars to head over to the nearby city of Heidelberg for dinner and drinks at Zum Weissen Schwanen (The White Swan). This ended up being our big team dinner. Lots of beers, great conversation and catching up on some discussions we didn’t have during the day. I had a really nice time and during our walk back to the car I got to see Heidelberg Castle light up at night as it looms over the city.

Friday kicked off once again at 9AM. For me this day was a lot of talking and chasing down loose ends while I had key people in the room. I also worked on some more Firehose stuff, this time working our way down the path to get logstash also sending data to Firehose. In the midst of which, we embarrassingly brought down our cluster due to failure to quote strings in the config file, but we did get it back online and then more progress was made after everyone got home on Friday. Still, it was good to get part of the way there during the sprint, and we all learned about the amount of logging (in this case, not much!) our tooling for all this MQTT stuff was providing for us to debug. Never hurts to get a bit more familiar with logstash either.

The final evening was spent once again in Walldorf, this time at the restaurant just across the road from the one we went to on Monday. We weren’t there long enough to grow tired of the limited selection, so we all had a lovely time. My early morning to catch a train meant I stuck to a single beer and left shortly after 8PM with a colleague, but that was plenty late for me.


Photo courtesy of Chris Hoge (source)

Huge thanks to Marc and SAP for hosting us. The spaces worked out really well for everything we needed to get done. I also have to say I really enjoyed my time. I work with some amazing people, and come Thursday morning all I could think was “What a great week! But I better get home so I can get back to work.” Hey! This all was work! Also thanks to Jeremy Stanley, our fearless Infrastructure Project Team Leader who sat this sprint out and kept things going on the home front while we were all focused on the sprint.

A few more photos from our sprint here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157674174936355

pleia2's blog: Kubrick, Typeface to Interface and the Zoo

I’ve been home for almost three weeks, and now I’m back in an airport. For almost two weeks of that MJ has been on a business trip overseas and I’ve kept myself busy with work, the book release and meeting up with friends and acquaintances. The incredibly ambitious plans I had for this time at home weren’t fully realized, but with everything we have going on I’m kind of glad I was able to spend some time at home.

Mornings have changed some for me during these three weeks. Coming off of trips from Mumbai and Philadelphia in August my sleep schedule was heavily shifted and I decided to take advantage of that by going out running in the mornings. I’d been meaning to get back into it, and my doctor has gotten a bit more insistent of late based on some results from blood work, and she’s right. Instead of doing proper C25K this time I’ve just been doing interval run/walks. I walk about a half mile, do pretty even run/walk for two miles and then a half mile back. It’s not a lot, but I’ll up the difficultly level as I the run/walk I have going feels easier, I have been going out 4-5 days a week and so far it feels great and seems sustainable. Fingers crossed for keeping this up during my next few weeks of travel.

With MJ out of town I’ve made plans with a bunch of local friends. Meals with my friends James, Emma, Sabice and Amanda last week were all a lot of fun and reversed my at home trend of being a hermit. Last weekend I made my way over to to the Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition. It opened in June and I’ve been interested in going, but sorting out timing and who to go with has been impossible. I finally just went by myself last Saturday after some having some sushi for lunch nearby.

I wouldn’t say I’m a huge Kubrick fan, but I have enjoyed a lot of his work. The exhibit does a really exceptional job showcasing his work, with bright walls throughout and really nicely laid out scripts, cameras, costumes and props from the films. I had just recently seen Eyes Wide Shut again, but the exhibit made me want to go back and watch the rest, and ones I haven’t seen (Lolita, Spartacus). I particularly enjoyed the bits about my favorite movies of his, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Some photos from the exhibition here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157670417890794

I did get out to a movie recently with my friend mct. We saw Complete Unknown which was OK, but not as good as I had hoped. Dinner at a nearby brewery rounded off the evening nicely.

With the whirlwind week of my book release, preparations for the OpenStack QA/Infrastructure sprint (which I’m on my way to now) and other things, I called it a day early on Thursday and met up with my friend Atul for some down time to visit the San Francisco Zoo. He’s been in town for several weeks doing a rotation for work, and we kept missing each other between other plans and my travel schedule. We got to the zoo in time to spend about 90 minutes there before they closed, making it around to most of the exhibits. We got a picture together by the giraffes, but they’ve opened exhibits for the Mexican Wolves and Sifaka lemurs since I last visited! It was fun to finally see both of those. I have some more zoo visits in my future too, hoping to visit the Philadelphia zoo when I’m there next weekend and then the Columbus Zoo after the Ohio LinuxFest in early October.

More zoo pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157670651372724

Thursday night I met up with my friend Steve to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see the Typeface to Interface exhibit. This museum is just a block from where I live and the recently reopened after a few years of massive renovations. They’re open until 9PM on Thursdays and we got there around 7:30 to quite the crowd of people, so these later hours seem to be really working for them. Unfortunately I’ve never been much of a fan of modern art. This exhibit interested me though, and I’m really glad I went. It walks you through the beginning of bringing typeface work into the digital realm, presenting you with the IBM Selectric that had replaceable typing element ball for different fonts. You see a variety of digital-inspired posters and other art, the New York Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual. It was fun going with Steve too, since his UX expertise meant that he actually knew a thing or two about these things out of the geeky computer context I was approaching it with. I think they could have done a bit more to tie the exhibit together, but it’s probably the best one I’ve seen there.

We spent the rest of the evening before closing walking through several of the other galleries in the museum. Nothing really grabbed my interest, and a lot of it I found difficult to understand why it was in a museum. I do understand the aesthetically pleasing nature of much abstract art, but when it starts being really simple (panel of solid magenta) or really eclectic I struggle with understanding the appeal. Dinner was great though, both of us are east coasters by origin and we went to my favorite fish place in SOMA for east coast oysters, mussels, lobster rolls and strawberry shortcake.

Yesterday afternoon MJ got home from his work trip. In the midst of packing and laundry we were able to catch up and spend some precious time together, including a wonderful dinner at Fogo de Chão. Now I’m off to Germany for work. I had time to write this post because the first flight I had was delayed by an astonishing 6 hours, sailing past catching my connection. I’ve now been rebooked on a two stop itinerary that’s getting me in 5 hours later than I had expected. Sadly, this means I’m missing most of the tourist day in Heidelberg I had planned with colleagues on Sunday, but I expect we’ll still be able to get out for drinks in the evening before work on Monday morning.