Life Update March 2009: Full Speed Ahead

By Christopher Allan Webber on Sun 08 March 2009

So it's been a while since I updated this thing. Lots of stuff has been happening, so I might as well jump right into explaining what those things are.

Current and upcoming projects

Work

Working at the Participatory Culture Foundation continues to be great. Probably if you're reading this on Planet Miro or whatever you're already aware of this, but it's a recap from my perspective anyway.

Miro 2.0!

Miro 2.0 made it out the door, and the responses have been mostly positive. The general consensus is that it's everything people loved about Miro, but more stable and with a better interface. Which is great, because that's mostly what this release was about, and really matches my feelings and impressions from development as well. When I first started volunteering on Miro was when the user interface overhaul first started. While the overhaul of the interface is apparent from an aesthetic perspective, it should be emphasized how much of the codebase was really gutted and reworked. I'm really glad to have been part of this transition period because I think it's given me a lot of perspective and was a great learning experience.

So anyway, yeah. That's what I did while volunteering and for the first few months of fulltime PCF employment. Then my focus shifted…

Miroguide 3.0!

Yep, for the next couple months of development I switched to working on the Miro Guide, which also underwent a rather large facelift for its 3.0 release. Some things changed on the backend too, but not as much as with Miro 2.0.

There was a lot to learn though… although the Miro Guide uses the Django framework, it feels a bit closer to a Pylons application as it uses its own ORM for the database and a few other such things (mostly just the ORM though). I really enjoyed working on it and learning about it. Toward the end Paul Swartz came back to work on the application. Was quite enjoyable collaborating on things, and we even managed to move things over to git, which is awesome. (Miro also will be switching to git soon, and there's a conversation on the mailing list in case that's of interest to you.)

Anyway, Miro 2.0, Miroguide 3.0 and the new http://getmiro.com website all launched in the same week, so that was a bit exhausting, but it all went really well.

I'm not sure many people know, but the Miro Guide is AGPLv3. So yes, like Miro, the Miro Guide is genuine Free Software. There's been a lot of interest about free network services lately, so I'd like to try and make that more clear because I'm afraid many people who would be interested simply don't realize that. We'll probably do more advertisement of it soon once we get this git stuff all straightened out.

And speaking of free software and websites, that brings me to my current work duties…

Miro Local TV

Yep, Miro Local TV, which was announced a number of months ago. It's not in a state I'd consider presentable yet, but development is coming along. Multiple location-specific sites work and you can view videos, but it's still not ready to be shown off yet. Hopefully I'll have more to say about this shortly. (Indeed, I was actually writing a longer bit about a specific topic related to this in here, but I've decided it merits its own blogpost.)

The wedding and the wedding website

So, the wedding… coming up soon, less than three months away now. What can I say… Morgan has been more on top of this than I have. I hate to take up such stereotypical gender roles about it, but I guess that's the way it has worked out. Still, I've been working on a very specific piece of the wedding: the wedding website.

So, it took quite a while, but most of it is done and up. I'm quite pleased with the way it's turned out. Still two major pieces to put in place… gotta get the reception-music-submission stuff working, and have to put up a video of the animation I originally proposed to Morgan with in the first place. I've got the video ready.. just gotta get that stuff together.

Orgmode

Org-mode! Not really a project as much, but I recently switched over all my life and project planning over to using this wonderful piece of software. I was using PlannerMode previously, but I was finding that as the number of things happening in my life grew, the less the day-planner idea was working for me. I initially took interest in orgmode because I wanted to be able to ditribute some small amounts of todo lists and project outlines with my personal projects. And then using it was just been so nice that it's continued to take over my whole workflow. Anyway, I don't regret it. Orgmode is a wonderful example of user interfaces in plain text. I highly recommend watching the Google tech talk… it might make an orgmode user out of you too.

The GIMP class

Yep, I'm going to be teaching a class on the GIMP to students at Casa Aztlán. Or, at least, that's my expectation. We're still in the recruitment stage. It'll be a one night a week thing for six weeks, if enough students sign up for it to happen.

An unnamed animation

I am going to be working on an animation in collaboration with friend (and former boss) Robert Metrick, who makes some awesomely weird stuff. We're meeting on Monday (tomorrow) to start some brainstorming and plan it out. Not sure exactly what it's going to be yet, but I'm hoping it will be about a 4-6 month long project. Yes, as you are probably expecting, I am expecting to do the animation in Blender.

PyCon

Not much to say about PyCon except that I will indeed be there, and helping with the video recording. Maybe I'll see you there as well? We might do a Miro sprint there… not sure if anyone would be interested?

FOSSGaming.org

I registered the domain name fossgaming.org after a long conversation on Identi.ca (that also lead to the creation of the !fossgaming group). Basically, free and open source software is coming along really well in almost all areas, but not as much in the game development department.

I'm not sure what's going to happen with this totally. I am planning to put up planet.fossgaming.org in the next couple of weeks with Feedjack (and you are right, the dns has not even been set up for that yet) in an effort to get more free software game developers talking to each other. Aside from that, I'm hoping to help with steering this, but I won't be able to invest that much time into it myself for at least the next couple of months. I'm hoping to help foster a community that can make some headway on its own, and then in a couple months I'll be able to jump in more myself. Maybe things don't work that way though, so its possible that this won't really make it that far until after the wedding. We'll see.

If you have thoughts on it, or are interested in helping this project along, contact me; I'm happy to offload some of this work.

Pumping Station One

Pumping Station One is a Hackerspace (think YMCA for nerds) that is starting to really come together in Chicago. Looks like they might be moving in in April. I became a member and attended the last meeting. I probably won't be too heavily involved here for a bit, but I'm excited to see this start to take off. I might even do some co-working from here.

The diet

I've mentioned that I started focusing on my health again. Well, 2.5 months into this diet, I've lost more than 30 pounds, so things are going really well. I'm mostly following the Hacker's Diet (dieting through engineering, management and statistics). I'm counting calories and biking. The effects are noticable, and I'm feeling better with each passing day. I'm actually using orgmode to track my diet, which is working out extremely well… maybe I'll make a post with more details on this later.

Summary and life bits

Are we moving?

So, moving… one of the reasons I took my current job was the possibility that we might be moving depending on what happens with Morgan and grad school. At this point, we still don't know, though it is looking increasingly likely that we'll be around Chicago for at least another year. Otherwise, we might move to either Philadelphia or Boston. I'll update when I know more.

Busier than ever, but better than ever (and no more projects)

Clearly, things are busy, but I'm keeping it together and I think I'm happier than I've ever been. But I've hit the limits of what I can do here. Everything I have now is fairly manageable, but if I tacked on anything more it probably wouldn't be, so… I won't.

Sorry this post was so long. But now you know.