At my kid’s school, a couple of times a year the parents are invited in to teach electives to the kids. I thought it would be fun to try to introduce the kids to something fun, and along the way expose them a bit to the open source world.

Now, I am not a graphics person. I have no mad photo editing skills. However, every once in a while I take photos of my kids and swap their heads to just to get a laugh. I figured this was a skill I could teach kids to do that in about an hour. The next step was to incorporate open source. I figured I would not be allowed to install the Gimp on the machines. So, I decided to create a live image for the kids to try on the school computers. I went out to the Fedora Spins Page and created a variation of Fedora 17 which included the Gimp and defaulted the background to the school logo. The desktop looked like:

lourdesScreenShot

The next step was to get my live image into school. I made the image small enough to fit onto a CD, but I figured it would be fun if the kids could save their work. I went to work, explained what I was going to do, and begged for donations. I got great support from Mairin Duffy and Robyn Bergeron from the Fedora Project; Theron Conrey from the Ovirt Project; John Adams, David Huff, and Paula Weigel from Red Hat. They were all very generous:

keys

With a bunch of USB keys, I went to work burning the images onto the keys. My son did a couple of test runs for me to make sure things worked, and I learned a bunch about burning live usbs. For example, now know where my laptops hard drive is mounted because I blew it away :). I ended up building the images with the following command:

livecd-iso-to-disk –reset-mbr –home-size-mb 45 –delete-home –force –noverify –unencrypted-home /home/bkearney/code/spin-kickstarts/Lourdes.iso /dev/sdb1

The day of the electives, I ended up having about 20 students over two classes. In each class, I explained about open source, and what Fedora is. I also explained what a live USB was and that they would be running Fedora. We then powered up the Gimp and went through a quick tutorial of putting Darth Vader’s head on top of Tony Stark’s Body. The end product looked like this:

darthStark

Then they were allowed to play around with a set of faces on the images. I saw things like Taylor-Maximus:

taylor_maximus

Beyonce Obama, Sorcerer Tim Sherlock Holmes, and Terminator Black Widow. The usb keys would freeze up if they kids saved them. I am not sure if it was how I built the keys, or the hardware.

All and all I think the class had fun. They got to learn a couple of basic photo editing skills, they were introduced to Fedora, and they got to take  home the USB keys and maybe show it to their friends and family. In case you were wondering, I did hide the “Install to Hard drive” option. Although it would be cool to have them use Fedora at home, I figured I may get an upset parent or two. It is still in there tho, so who knows!

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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.

Mortal Sins for Donuts

Posted: February 7, 2013 in funny, just me

Warning…. humor follows:

My kids go to a parochial school. On the way home, my daughter tells me a story. “Dad”, she says, “I was walking by the office on the way to safety patrol. I saw Sister, and saw some donuts that were there. I said ‘Man, I would kill for one of those’. Sister then asked if I wanted one!”

I dont know which worries me more: (1) That my 10 year old daughter professed to be willing to commit a mortal sin in order to get a stale breakfast confection or that (2) Sister was willing to reward her for this profession.

/me is confused. 🙂

Puck vs. Pinky, Guess who won?

Posted: August 20, 2012 in hockey

During a hockey double header game on Sunday (which the Chiefs split 1-1, and which I scored one goal at) a hockey puck hit my pinky finger on my left hand. Below is what the doctor saw:

Image

So, after 40 years, I finally can say that I broke a bone. I only wish that it was a bit more studly of a break. Going into work and saying “I have a break of my Distal Phalanges” is really not going to get me any macho points. Oh well….

Shadowman in Lego

Posted: June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

After 2 Brick Magic lego conventions, and a few orders from Brink Link I finally finished a small Shadowman Lego picture. Not too bad for a first time out:Image

Image

Image

New Bimini Top

Posted: May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

The big ticket item for this year was a new bimini. Jenny really wanted one so that we could stay out on the boat longer during the summer months without getting burned. I was all for it as it would dress up the tower a bit more. However, I was a bit nervous about loosing headroom. Nothing is worse than having to duck or hit your head on a boat. We agreed to look for a over the tower bimini.

We did some research, and only found one place which would do this style. It is Tower Biminis out of California. We called them up, told them what we were looking for, and the type of boat we have. Ours is an older boat (2003) so the did not have a pattern for our tower. It was no issue tho. They sent out some measurements for us to take, we did so, and we were on our way. To make sure it would be a good fit, they even found a local place with a boat with our tower to double check the manufacturing.

2 weeks later, we had a new bimini. Blue to match the boat, with a white racing stripe. As you can see, it looks great:

Image

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When stowing it, it sits up high on the tower so that it is out of the way:

 

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All and all, a great addition to the boat. Next year… LED lights!

2012 Stereo Build

Posted: April 10, 2012 in toys
Tags: , ,

My parents got me some new speakers for the boat for Christmas. The speakers are Infinity 612m’s which have a blue cone which would look great with the boat. In doing some research, I was told that I should put in a basic amp if I was upgrading to nicer speakers. Thus was born my second off season task for the boat.

The first step was to replace the speakers themselves. The bow speakers came out pretty easily:

But Moomba decided, went mounting the stern speakers, to put them behind the body panels. After bending behind the fiberglass.. and getting lots of fiberglass cuts.. I got the rear ones out:

A trip to Radio Shack to get new connectors for the speaker, and a guess that the copper wire was positive and and silver wire was ground… and the speakers were hooked up!

We took the boat out the next weekend.. and they looked good. However, the power was still a bit low. I could not hear the speakers over the engine. Next up, the amp. Need to get it to sound good. I grabbed an older JL amp off of Amazon, a JX360/4. It got good reviews and the price was right (cheap!). I went with a 4 channel.. doing 2 channels in the front and 2 in the back.

I knew I wanted to mount it out of the way, and I did not want to spend alot on 4 guage wire. I located a spot right next to the battery, and cut some pressure treated plywood I had down to size:

The local audio shop sells speaker box carpet, so I wrapped it in that to make it purty:

I then mounted the amp, the fuse and the wires. If I had done a bit more research.. I may have put the wires behind the wood, but I was pretty happy with how it turned out:

Finally, I mounted it into the front compartment behind the battery. I did not loose any space… and the wires which you see in the photo you really do not see when in the boat:

All and all, it took me about 14 hours to replace the speakers, build the amp wall, and install. I would probably give myself a B-. The wiring could be a bit neater, and the mounting could be a bit stronger. But, the next weekend when we took the boat out.. I was actually able to hear the stereo over the engine!

Here is the kids wakeboardng, while Mom and Dad are listening to Madonna the second: