Category Archives: projects

Notes from OSCON 2011

I was at the Oregon Convention Center 7 days in a row last week, which feels like it should qualify for some sort of marathon record. First to attend CLS, where I learned a lot about open source foundations and various projects’ deploy processes, then OSCON, where I learned more about foundations and deploying (oddly enough). I left with a big stack of ideas to work on for Calagator and other projects.

Christie, Sherri, and I gave a well-received talk on event planning at OSCON (“Event Planning for Geeks”). We’re still building this out, but an initial event planning handbook is live on the Stumptown Syndicate site. You can also view our slides. We realized in the course of writing the talk that we have way more material than we’re comfortable squeezing into a <1hr slot, so we'll be working on expanding this into a 2-3 hr. long workshop.

In response to several conversations we had over the week, we set up a Citizen Code of Conduct site to make it easy to share our open source citizenship-focused guidelines from Open Source Bridge. The document is CC-licensed, so you can easily re-use it for your own events and projects.

Another cool thing happened while we were busy at the conferences: “Collective Agency” announced its plans for the space formerly known as Souk. Stumptown Syndicate is happy to be one of the initial workgroup partners, and we’ll be working on how we can use this space to support the local user group community.

So—onward to August.

Build Up

Things I’m thinking about:

  • Antarctica
  • The ridiculous face Kirk is making right now (he’s napping in one of those sprawled out poses)
  • Coast Trip, July 2010 Coast Trip, July 2010 Coast Trip, July 2010
  • Documentation for unconferences, code sprints, and other tech activities, and how much time it’ll take to produce the docs I want to use
  • This report (PDF) on personal income gaps between Oregon and the rest of the country, and in particular the parts about lower proprietor incomes, and lower wages in higher paying industries (like technology)
  • Pondering whether tech workers getting paid lower while working in Oregon is a conscious choice (maybe it’s a partial choice, but then the workers getting paid below the median don’t realize they’re paid less, so they think they’re making a smaller trade off than is actually the case?)
  • Nonprofit regulations (we wrote bylaws for Stumptown Syndicate over the weekend). There’s so much good information for nonprofits in Oregon I wish I had on hand a few years ago.
  • Stuff.

Presenting: the Fall Fieldbook

Fall Fieldbook!

Labor Day is fast approaching, and with it, the end of the pages I allocated for my Summer Fieldbook. For fall, I wanted a slightly more gothic tone, something to encompass crunchy leaves and cooler weather and Halloween. This Fieldbook runs from Labor Day weekend through Thanksgiving weekend, and contains short fiction by H.P. Lovecraft, Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky”, and several images of anatomy and mollusks.

I’ve been keeping a daily activity log for almost a year now, and over the summer I found that having a notebook dedicated to this practice helped me stay more motivated. I also realized, through using the Summer Fieldbook, that really part of the book’s function is to be a point of inspiration throughout the season, something that will encourage me to note what’s grabbing my interest, what topics I want to pursue. So the fall edition is geared slightly less toward planning and more toward noticing things, and having a space to an ongoing record.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, your very own Fall Fieldbook can be purchased through Lulu. Let me know if you try it, or if you have comments on the summer edition fieldbook. I’m interested in hearing how other people make use of it, and how personal record-keeping fits into the rest of what you do.

5 Things I’m Thinking About

Everyone’s doing it, or so I hear.

  1. Community spaces for technology, and how to create and sustain one.
  2. Long-term unemployment stats, and what happens two or five years from now if we’re still at roughly the same level of unemployment and it’s mostly the same people.
  3. What print is good for. What digital is good for. (And how to build more of each.)
  4. Ladybusiness.
  5. Storytelling, and “what happens next?” replacing points and check-ins and scores. Possibly these stories involve dinosaurs or detectives or emergent AI or creepy crawlies from beyond or …?

Fieldbook Giveaway: The winner is…

The winner of a shiny new Summer Fieldbook is Eva! Who will be having a fun and busy summer, from the sounds of it.

If you didn’t win, or skipped the contest but still want a copy, Lulu has a free shipping offer through tomorrow, so get your order in now and save a few dollars. The discount code is FREESHIP.

Happy summer adventures!

Fieldbook Giveaway

Giant soccer

When I ordered my proof of the Summer Fieldbook, I bought a second copy so I could compare shipping options (really, I was worried that the default shipping would be slow). Surprisingly, the “slower” media mail book arrived on Saturday, and the FedEx Home Delivery one only got here yesterday. So the faster shipping option wasn’t actually faster, at least in this case.

This means I have a spare copy of the Fieldbook to give away to you, my fabulous blog readers. All you need to do is leave a comment with something you’re looking forward to doing this summer. Like watching the World Cup, or eating ice cream. I’ll pick a winner at random on Monday, May 10th, so be sure to fill in an email address I can use to reach you.

Ready to Go: Summer Fieldbook

Since September I’ve been keeping a daily notebook. It’s just a little report on what I did: work, side-projects, events, going out to eat or have drinks somewhere.

Notebook Pages

I’ve been reading about other people using print-on-demand to make custom notebooks for a while, and seeing the results of the SXSW Fieldnotes books gave me an idea for a project to try of my own.

I designed a notebook to be used as a summer journal and memento. There are day pages to keep track of what you did, blank notebook pages, QR code bookmarks to things you might want to look up on the go, dinosaurs, and a full map of Forest Park, which you can use to plan a hike or keep track of where you’ve been.

Fieldbook: map of Forest Park

If you’d like your own copy, it’s for sale on Lulu now. Since the books are printed as they’re ordered, I recommend getting your order in by May 14th to make sure that it’ll arrive before Memorial Day weekend (when the datebook starts) using the cheapest shipping option.

This is a book that’s meant to be scribbled in, have things taped to the pages, and need a rubberband to hold it shut. I’m excited to use it and look for ideas on how to make the next one even more fun.

Post-Vacation Chaos and Fun

Re-entry from vacation is always a little tricky. There’s work to return to, at the same time you’re trying to sort out all of the photos and memories and ideas from the trip. After last week’s trip, I came back to a client project launch, Calagator’s birthday, rapid-fire CrisisCampPDX planning, new photo equipment to play with—just to start.

Calagator Birthday Party

We had about fifteen people come out for Calagator‘s 2nd birthday party at Bailey’s on Friday night. Low-key, casual meetup, with brownies from Joe Cohen, lemon bars I made with the roadtrip lemons, plenty of beer, and food from the taqueria across the street. I’m sad that Igal, who has been instrumental in keeping Calagator going, was sick and couldn’t be there with us.


On Saturday, about 60 people met up at NedSpace for the first-ever CrisisCampPDX, a quickly-organized branch of a project that’s been bringing people together around the world to provide support for relief efforts in Haiti. This wasn’t just the regular Portland tech scene at work—we had a wide range of participants, from developers, to GIS specialists, to French and Creole speakers, to people who helped with data entry and sorting. I was really impressed with the energy and focus everyone brought to this work day. I helped with a hospital data project using Sahana, a disaster-management system. We hit a few bumps as people tried to get up to speed on different projects, but on the whole I was really impressed with how much we were able to do, for such a distributed set of projects.


And now for something completely different.

I have a small but growing collection of cameras, which has now expanded to include some Polaroid equipment. The middle of winter in the Pacific Northwest is not the best time to be running around shooting ISO 100 film, but I did manage to get a few shots off last week with my new SX-70 Sonar camera. (This is not the only new camera from the last couple of weeks, but you’ll have to wait to hear about the rest.)

You may be wondering, “didn’t Polaroid stop making instant film a while back? Why would you pick that up now?”. There’s a group known as The Impossible Project which has spent the last year and change developing new instant film for Polaroid camera formats, and they’re expected to release the results of that work next month. So I just have to pace myself with my existing film supply for a few weeks.

Last but not least, I updated the blog’s header with a new photo, from the road trip. Click through and have a look if you’re using an RSS reader to view this. I have a habit of leaving the header picture the same for long periods of time, but once in a while the blog design changes, and there’s often new links in the sidebar to check out, so it’s worth taking a peek.

Developing a Calagator Client for the iPhone

iPhone Simulator
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I’ve been working on an iPhone app to allow Calagator users to find out what events are happening, get details, and map the event location so they can figure out how to get there. It’s been a little slow going, as this is my first real iPhone development project, but the code is now to the point that the basic feature set is roughly covered.

If you’d like to try it out or contribute, I’ve pushed the code to GitHub, and you can check it out here.

Last week I ran into an issue where I wanted an easy way to strip HTML from a block of text, which is super-simple in Rails, and something I could code up pretty quickly in plain Ruby if needed. Figuring out how to do it in Objective-C was a bit more work, though. Learning a new language, there’s often a tension between how you’re used to approaching a problem, and the tools and preferences of this other language. I did finally come up with something that works and doesn’t feel excessively messy. I started with a snippet from another blog post, but it was crashing when I moved it into my Event model. Below is my solution.

- (NSString *) cleanDescription {
	NSScanner *scanner = [NSScanner scannerWithString:self.description];
	NSString *tag = @"";
	NSString *cleaned = self.description;

	while ([scanner isAtEnd] == NO) {
		[scanner scanUpToString:@"<" intoString:NULL];
		[scanner scanUpToString:@">" intoString:&tag];
		cleaned = [cleaned stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@>", tag] withString:@""];
	return cleaned;

The Future Sounds Like This

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Over the weekend, Lucas and I watched both Solaris and From Beyond, a combination that’s possibly as high/low style as one can get with SF. I love the interior of the Solaris station, the round walls, electrical panels, and piles of books shoved onto shelves. With From Beyond, I started wondering how to rewrite the whole thing as a police procedural—the original story is short enough you could do all sorts of things with it.

One of the enjoyable things about Solaris is that it combines a universe with space travel and alien intelligence with one that has paper books, tea, and long walks around the pond. It’s unevenly technological, past and present intermingling. Which is a good way to describe my music experiments the last week as well.

First, I should note that I’m using an iPhone app to tune my ukulele. It’s called Cleartune, and it’s a full chromatic tuner that can be used with any instrument. The graphics are beautifully designed, and downloading it was cheaper and more immediate than purchasing a hardware tuner.

I recorded myself playing Amazing Grace using AudioBoo, a handy little iPhone app and website for doing up to 5-minute recordings that other people can subscribe to in iTunes or a RSS reader. One of the interesting things about practicing ukulele is that since I like to sing as well, finding songs to practice is a balance between what has manageable chords, and what has a melody I already know (hopefully it fits my vocal range as well). This arrangement of Amazing Grace definitely hits that spot for me.

Then, on Thursday, I brought the UCreate mixer to the weekly hackathon at Lucky Lab. I still had one of the ukulele samples on there from earlier experiments, and Reid whipped up a little drum loop using TweakyBeat (yet another iPhone app, hmm?). Below is the result.

Reid had suggested that the 30 Hour Day recordings (from an awesome no-sleep fundraiser held in December) might produce some interesting clips for remixing, so I took the highlight video, split off some promising bits of music and conversation, and came up with something that makes me laugh (though I can’t speak for anyone else, and it probably helps if you know Rick and Cami, the hosts, personally).

So that’s what my week sounded like. And the future thing: I would’ve killed to be able to do this as a kid, you know? From as early as I knew I could use computers to make things, I wanted to be able to carry the pieces in my backpack, plug the parts together, and have it all just work. These kind of music experiments really highlight for me how we’re there, finally. I sat around at a pub on Thursday and plugged my friend’s phone into a toy mixer so we could manipulate the sound, and it was about as simple as it gets. That’s pretty neat.