OSCAL 17 Presentation on Itch to Scratch

Tomorrow I travel to Albania to present at the OSCAL 17 conference. OSCAL is the Albanian Open Source conference and I’ll be presenting for an hour or so on how the itch to scratch principles of open source could be used to create open source products (as opposed to infrastructure and dev tools)

I haven’t made the slides yet but they will be close to the presentation I did on the same topic in Detroit last week at Penguicon. Those slides can be found here (I use slides.com because they maintain the reveal.js open source presentation project).

On the plane tomorrow I will update this post with my new slides.

Open Source Product Development Culture

The more I think about Coko and the problems we have to solve, the more I have come to understand why and when open source works best. This should be a good thing, but strangely it raises more questions than answers. Up til now, open source has never been a product development culture. It has primarily been a technical solutions culture; the difference between those two cultures is vast.

I’m feeling a little like a stunned mullet. Like the most obvious thing in the world was sitting right in front of me but I never saw it. And we simply don’t have good examples of open source product development cultures that we can copy or learn lessons from. That fact is kind of shocking to me, and I am doubly shocked that it has taken me so long to clearly understand the ramifications.

It means that there is a difficulty, or we should exercise wariness, when translating lessons learned from existing open source models to those focused on producing products. The primary stakeholders change from developers to ‘users’ and that means that business models, metrics, language, tooling, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, processes for inter-organisational collaboration, workflows etc all change. Everything changes. We have to examine and re-imagine everything.

Ghost in the Hotel

I remember reading when I was a kid that ghosts walk through walls because they are following old paths in the house that no longer exist. So they wander down the corridor and through a wall because there used to be a door in the wall.

Sometimes when I’m traveling a lot and moving between different hotels in quick succession I kinda feel the same way.

Some Travel Tips – The Bag

Everyone has their way of traveling and knows what works for them so there is no such thing as an expert. I can’t stand wheelie bags, for example, but a buddy that travels a lot more than I do swears by them, so what can you say… each to their own…  However, there is always something to learn from how other people travel so here is how I do it. Maybe it’s useful, maybe not!

First… the bag… This is the most import decision when traveling. The first bag I brought was sold to me by a young guy (he must have been in his early 20s) in Adelaide. I told him I needed something to last a few months (since I didn’t have much money). He said that this is what everyone says and then they travel for 10 years or so, and so his advice was to buy the best bag you can afford, buy one to last. At the time I thought… how much has this dude traveled? What would he know? But I took his advice anyway and it turns out it just might be the wisest thing anyone has ever said to me!

Since then, I’ve tried just about everything – wheelie bags, hiking packs, bags with lots of pockets, narrow bags, fat bags, bags that attach to bags, semi-hard-shell bags, hybrid backpack/wheelie bags… the lot …pretty much everything except an actual suitcase. What I have settled on after many years is this one simple rule: the simpler the bag the better. In my case, I probably won’t buy anything other than a single compartment backpack with minimal additional pockets or gadgets. I want, more or less, a flexible bucket that I wear on my back. It’s just the simplest, and most versatile way to go.

I currently travel with 2 bags at all times (sometimes I strip down to one for trips of 2-3 days). Both bags are made by Mission Workshop (there is a shop down the road from where I live in San Francisco). There are these two models:

  1. 40L Arkiv bag
  2. 20L Sanction

This set up will do me well no matter if I’m going on a week-long trip to a single city nearby, or if I’m on the road for 3-4 months and traversing multiple continents or, more importantly, multiple seasons (cause you need more stuff).

I carry both on (I never check in luggage). You can pretty much fill up both of these…60+litres of stuff, and sling them ‘casually’ over the same shoulder and no one will notice. Walk on the plane with a whole lot of stuff and avoid checking in anything. I also prefer backpacks because wheelie bags are a pain on stairs and they make a crazy racket if you are on cobblestone roads or paths (common in Europe) …plus they don’t shrink to fit a smaller load like a good backpack does, you can’t run with them, and you will always look like a tourist (which isn’t always a good thing; and when carrying a backpack, you can blend in a lot more). Finally, in case you find yourself going ‘off road’ a little in your travels, perhaps unexpectedly, then a backpack is more versatile and a much better look than a wheelie. Who wants to walk into a camp in the bush towing a wheelie?  Errr… not me…and a bag makes a better pillow than a wheelie if it comes to that…

The 40L Arkiv has a strong steel buckle strap (you actually have to buy it extra) that you can use to really bind down the bag no matter how much stuff you have crammed into it… The Arkiv can also be extended with all kind of accessories. I experimented with this but I don’t really use them. I either carry it as just a bag with no accessories or (more commonly) I have two small side pockets added where I keep sundry stuff (mostly some simple ‘first aid’ things, my clear bag with bottles containing liquids, a few odd cables etc).

The 40L bag is just for clothes and I put this in the overhead bins. I put my laptop and stuff I need on the plane in the smaller bag down by my feet. I also use the smaller bag as a day pack. It is a perfect combo. Mission Workshop bags are hardwearing, durable, and simple. They just have one big compartment and you can stuff a lot of stuff in there…. They also have some nice little extras… the Arkiv bag, for example, has a tiny elastic ‘handle’ at the bottom of the bag which you can fit one or two fingers in…perfect for quickly slipping your finger into as you walk down the aisle of the plane and whip out the bag in record time. Awesome. It’s the little things….

The one gotcha with the Mission Workshops bags is that the shoulder straps sit very flat, which means that they are fine when wearing the bag with 2 straps, but if you casually throw the bag over one shoulder, they tend to slip down, which can be annoying.

Anyway, this post is meant to be about bags in general. I’m not sponsored by Mission Workshop by the way. Just calling it as I see it. If there are other bags of a similar type that you swear by, then please let me know! Always curious to check out other possibilities.

I’ll write more tips in future posts.

Open Source Alliance for Open Science

We had a pretty awesome day today at the Open Source Alliance for Open Science in Portland. We spent many sessions talking about comment issues that face us all, and also a lot of time working out what the purpose of the group will be, moving forward. There will be more news on this soon!

Some pics of the day’s events below!





















Sigh…Macchiato is not a small Cappuccino

So many times I go to a coffee shop and order a Machiatto (in the states I have to say Espresso Macchiato to avoid getting a ‘milkshake’)…and I just get some soupy milky thing. A Macchiato is not a small cappuccino…but that is what most fancy cafes seem to think it is…Its even true of the pretentious San Francisco and Portland cafes (sadly, you get a better Espresso Machiatto from Starbucks than most fancy cafes – but make sure you order a dry Espresso Machiatto…then they almost always do it right) . I once even was told by a barrister in San Francisco that he wouldn’t make a Machiatto with just foam on top…when I meekly complained he said to me point black “I don’t care what you think”…sigh…I guess my beard was not long enough to validate my opinion…for those that would like to know the difference, the site below is the best guide I found to explain… a Macchiato, for those that are interested, has no milk mixed into the espresso shot. Sigh….

Cappuccino vs Latte vs Macchiato vs Mocha: What’s The Difference?

Coko’s Efforts getting Out ‘n About

It seems the Coko meme is getting out there. Just these last few weeks we have seen the following:

Stenci.la – we put some money into assisting ‘, including flying the founder Nokome over to San Francisco and introducing him to funders. The result is that Nokome just landed a very nice grant from the Sloan Foundation. We don’t lay any claim to Nokome’s great work, but it’s good to see that our help was instrumental in helping this great project along the way.

HTML Typescript – Recently (last week) Wendell Piez, who we work with for Docx to HTML file conversion, presented at the well known JATSCon about his work with Coko. The preliminary proceedings are available online for Wendell’s talk and I hear the video will be available soon too.

Texture – if one slot at JATSCon wasn’t enough… Texture was also presented. It is an online JATS editor produced by the Substance Consortium which we co-founded. Proceedings here.

Penguicon, Carnegie Mellon – I recently presented Coko at these two events and upcoming we will be presenting Coko and various projects at SSP, AUP, Open Source Lisbon, Wikicite, OSEHRA, Open Source Albania and more!

March for Science – Coko CoFounder Kristen Ratan was lead organiser for the San Francisco March for Science. I couldn’t be there (was in the desert) but it apparently was a wonderful event.

Open Source Alliance for Open Science – we have 28 open source projects for open science coming to join in a day working out how to work together. Starts tomorrow in Portland!

Lots happening 🙂