Archive for the ‘geek stuff’ Category

It took me a while to find this… so I wanted to post it very clearly. You can upgrade a Fedora 18 machine directly to Fedora 20. Thanks to Christine Caulfield for pointing out a few gotchas at However:

fedup --network 20 --nogpgcheck

worked great.

Halloween 2013: The Minion!

Posted: October 29, 2013 in funny, geek stuff
Tags: ,

A few years ago I worked with Nathan to build a Master Chief costume. I had not done one yet for Gillian. Over the summer, Gillian and I had a date night to go see Dispicable Me 2. We both got a kick out of the Bee Do Minion. That seemed like a great idea for halloween, so October 1st we started on the Minion.

First up, was google to try and copy some ideas. I found a really good website with a tutorial here. I am not going to copy another step by step, I will just add the differences. First off, the materials. I found the wallboard equivilant from the totorial at Lowes. As of 2013 in Ralegh, NC the price of the wallboard is $35. So, it was a bit more expensive then was hoping. But I got it, and some bolts, and brought it home.

1I measured the rough circumference of my daughter and guestimated the circumference. We went to a Five below store and purchased an exercise ball just like the While They Snooze guys said, and went to town. The only difference was that we did the paper mache on the tube so that it had a lip to fit “over” the tube later. I learned a couple of things… first… I did not know  how to make paper mache. I found a good recipe here.   I used the raw recipe. Second, fans can dry paper mache alot quicker alot quicker the air drying. We did 6 layers, and alternated the direction each time. I dont know if it mattered or not.

2 Next I measured out my daughter next to the height of the minion. I figured out roughly where the mouth should go. We cut the mouth next, and she was able to try it on. We used webbing and some bolts on the inside to hold up the minion.

After that, we started with the eye. Gillian likes the one eyed minion, so using the cans was not going to work. Nathan is interested in trying to build an iron man costume, so we decided to use EVA foam instead of tin cans. We cut out the width of the mask and shaped it using  a heat gun. The eye itself was another piece of EVA foam which was shaped over a basketball. If you wan to learn about EVA foam, head over to and search there. Lots of good tutorials. The foam you see here is from Harbour Freight, covered with 50/50 glue water and then painted with spray paint.


I went away on travel for a week, and came back to a great pair of overalls which Jenny had made after a trip to Hancock Fabric:


At this point, it was pretty much assembly. I was thinking about paint or using felt for the color. But after failing with the poker felt, and watching this DeadMau5 tutorial we went a more stretchy fabric. You can see us putting it on here with spray on glue. The fabric covered up most of the bumps from the paper mache:


We did a quick Test Assembly:


And then headed back to Joanne Fabrics for a bit of leather for the strap (she thought we were making a batman costume), some white, red, and sheer black. The final product looked like:


And with the happy owner to give a perspective on size:


The hair is an old night light painted black. All and all, a good family project. The company halloween party is in a few days. Here is hoping it goes well! BTW.. if you are a redditor.. vote me up!

At work, we have a pretty distributed team. There are team members across the US, in Canada, the UK, the Czech Republic, and Israel. Even though we are spread out, the team interacts very well:

  • There are conversations via email, via IRC. Team members are good about communicating that way so everyone is in the name the room.
  • Collaboration tools like etherpad allows the team to edit documents as if they are in the same room.
  • Code sharing via git, github, etc allow for code reviews by peers across multiple time zones

All of this means that, although distributed, the team knows each other very well. They communicate often, and provide better code because of their collaboration.

A while ago, one one team, we started to use Google Hangouts for our Friday Scrum calls. As much as a pain as it was to get going the first week or two.. this has been a huge improvement for morale and general team dynamics. Being able to see folks faces, even if only for 10 minutes every week, really seems to bring the team together. Yes, it forces the remotees to wear pants onc a week. But, I think it provides a bit of that “being in the office” which the non remotees get just because of there they sit. I have spoken with other teams who are using this, and they all agree on the benefits.

So, for anyone with remote teams.. especially if you are using SCRUM  or another agile process. Look into Google Hangouts. I guarantee the team will appreciate it.

Latest Release of Candlepin

Posted: August 30, 2011 in candlepin, geek stuff, work

We continue to use Scrum at work, and it is working very well. The team is able to work very independently, and very quickly. We continue to roll out new features every three weeks.

Version 0.4.11 is the latest release which adds partially subscribed logic, activation keys, and lots of additional features.

Please come on bye, and help out. You can find us at

Good blog artcile on adding search to rails apps. Used in Foreman, soon to be used in Katello and Headpin.

Great Summary of Using Foreman

Posted: June 27, 2011 in geek stuff, work

This came across today, great summary of setting up and using The Foreman.

As a followup to the Candlepin Post.. we have just opened up the larger project for Open Source Systems Management. The project is called Katello. The name rhymes with Jello, so that should help. The goal of this project is to bring together Content Management, Subscription Management, and Configuration Management.

If you are interested in participating, we would love the help. Come on bye, check it out, and say hi!

At work we have been doing alot of development around Software Subscriptions, and how to represent them to a machine as a collection of Entitlements (what a machine is entitled to have or do). It is a FOSS project which we have been working on it for a while, but have finally hung out an offical shingle. You can checkout the website at The name is based on a place up near our offices in Westford. It is called the Bowladrome. The folks came up with the idea while bowling.

Tech wise, it is a pretty interesting project. Java Stateless App Server using Guice. It exposes a REST API provided by RESTEasy.  It has  Rails 3.0 front end, and some linux clients which are written in Python. All we are missing is Erlang and we would be all set.

Come on bye, check it out. The project is open and is being actively developed. If you work in and around software subscriptions we would be interested in your opinions.


For our anniversary, my wife organized a tour of down town Raleigh. The cool this was that it was on a Segway with Triangle Segway. We went into this thinking how great it would be to try out the travel mode of the future, but we got alot more out of it.

First off, the technology is great. They are incredibly simple to ride. You feel comfortable immediately on them. I have never had a piece of technology meld so well with the activity you are doing. It feels natural to lean forward a bit to move. And when you think “Oh Sh*T”, your natural body motion make you stop. Very impressive.

The company put together a great tour. I learned more about our city in one hour than I have in the entire 5 years we have been here. I am not a history buff, but I appreciated the stories and the diggs on UNC. I kept thinking during the tour how everyone should take a tour of where the live, to really appreciate the nuances of their home town.

Here is a photo of us at one of our stops. We had an option to stop and stretch our legs, or to zip around and drag race each other. I won :)

Never have I appreciated RPMS more

Posted: October 29, 2010 in geek stuff

Dinner is over, and my wife is out picking up our son from basketball tryouts (he did not make it.. bummer). I tell my daughter that I have a surprise. You see.. we have just gotten a new Garmin and it allows you to record your own voices. I assume they learned finally from TomTom.

Anyways.. it only runs on XP SP2 or higher, but I have an old XP machine running in a VM so I figure I am fine. I boot it up, expecting to install and go. Nope… the program does not start. I figure, I can figure this out. I spend 15 minutes trying to remember where the event viewer is.. and then spend 3 hours trying to figure out where the heck I can get assembly VC80.CRT. The answer, of course, is that it is in the dotnet 2.0 redistribution from roughly 2006. I know.. obvious.

I will admit.. I really wished I had rpms at that moment.

– bk