randall's blog

Visualizing "Clouds" More Crisply: No More Gobbledygook

Before I start, let's recap two words that you may have heard recently if you've been around Ubuntu people. I promise this will be the only jargon in this article.

Juju - a tool that makes it easy to get your solution onto a "cloud"
Charm - a description of that solution, shown as a pretty icon, like this:

Ok, with that out of the way...

I've posted a few times recently about Juju which is in my (slightly biased) opinion, the best and easiest way to get tools that solve real problems deployed onto a "cloud".

But what is a cloud? There are too many definitions out there that unfortunately don't make it any easier for people to visualize what a "cloud" is. And, as if to add insult to injury, a bunch of buzzwords and "thickets of gobbledygook "(1) cloud our understanding of "clouds".

Juju simplifies this immensely. But, what if, as a pure thought experiment, we made the canvas that is presented in Juju and that is designed to show the substrate (or fabric) that the "cloud" is built upon a little more representative of the physical reality? In reality, "clouds" are just collections of computers (and things that connect to computers). Maybe we should attempt to depict some of this.

Admittedly, I'm no 3-D artist, but I love to visualize and do mock-ups. In the spirit of giving humans that are building solutions with Juju a more representative view of their canvas what if we displayed something that looked a little more like this?

In this depiction, computers (and computing resources generally) could be represented roughly to scale as 3-D boxes. Height can represent how powerful they are. area might represent how much they cost, or some other measurement. "Big" resources are easily discernible from "small" resources.

Imagine dragging your Juju Charm onto this canvas and then resizing the Charm to cover the resources that you want it to consume. Grab more "small" resources, or grab some of the "big" ones. (In other words, scale out, or scale up.)

What do you think? Does this idea have merit? Does this make is easier for humans to visualize and to understand the "cloud"?

--
(1) I'll write more on "thickets of gobbledygook" later, but now you know my term for it. And, if you're creating these thickets, please cut it out.

Image by author. Please help him improve it ;)

Juju is... Music!

Many of you who follow my blog have heard me say "Ubuntu is not just software."

Well, by extension, neither is Juju. Juju is part of Ubuntu and like its parent, it's more than bits and bytes.

Today I learned that Juju is not only the coolest and most effortless way to solve problems using private, public, or community clouds, but is also a very talented musician.

Please take a look at this spine-tingling performance by Mojo Juju entitled "I Put A Spell On You". It's guaranted to get you moving on this Monday...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK6P67eKOMY&feature=youtu.be&t=1m7shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK6P67eKOMY&feature=youtu.be&t=1m7s

Thanks Mojo for an inspiring and magical performance!

And what about you? If I were to ask you to complete this sentence, what would you say?
"Juju is ________"

Remembering Aaron and Meeting Personal Heroes

I didn't know Aaron personally. I'm probably similar to you in that regard. Sure, I was peripherally aware of his work and achievements in spreading freedom the way he knew best. But he really didn't come into sharp focus for me until he died.

That's sad. In retrospect, I really wish I could have been more present and that I had made a point to meet him. In those days, I doubt that I would have had much to offer by way of assistance, but I wish I could have at least said "thank you", and offered words of encouragement.

I don't want this post to be all melancholy. So, here's the positive part. Aaron's early departure from this earth catalyzed me to learn about and to reflect on his work and the work that still needs to be done. It helped me to add a new verse to my personal philosophy. It goes something like this:

"Meet people that are doing great and selfless things for humanity while we still can. Help them where possible. Thank them for what they do. And, if we can't meet them before they depart, honour them and spread the word about them."

Last night, I and several hundred others had the opportunity to honour Aaron at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. We watched Aaron's story and heard from people who knew him. We had a chance to thank him and I am truly thankful that we had this chance.

Come to think of it, Aaron not only raised my awareness about the ongoing battle for freedom, but he also gave me the chance to meet like-minded people and to share stories with people who are working to make the world a better place. (Unsurprisingly, several of the folks I met were doing so with Ubuntu.)

And also quite accidentally, Aaron introduced me to another one of my personal heroes, Ted Nelson .Ted, the inventor of hypertext, the creator of the underlying concepts that became the world-wide web. Ted, we met ever so briefly last night, and unfortunately you had to run off before I could give you a proper thank you. But, I'm happy we at least had the chance to meet and I hope we'll meet again soon.

Aaron, thank you for all you have done. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to make some new Ubuntu friends, and to meet another of my personal heroes.

--

Who are your personal heroes? Have you met them? I hope you will.

I hope you'll watch The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXr-2hwTk58http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXr-2hwTk58

Ubuntu. It's in the Cloud. It's Juju!

I haven't seen a story of this week's best demo posted on Planet yet, so let me be the first to do so.

This week, Mark Shuttleworth and a bunch of fine Ubuntu and Canonical folks were in Paris for the OpenStack Developer Summit. I know what some of you might be thinking. "So what, Randall. What's that got to do with Ubuntu? And by the way, clouds are hype anyways! I'm going to fill your comments engine with the vitriol that you deserve."

Wait! Please let me explain.

Back before I first got excited about Ubuntu (in the dark ages of the mid 00's) I was a skeptic about Ubuntu too. Admittedly, I used to think "What could Ubuntu possibly offer that [insert random OS here] couldn't?" Then one day it hit me, quite by accident and probably after one-too-many attempts to replace the OS on my computer with something better. Ubuntu was accessible and made no apologies about it. Almost anyone could install and enjoy Ubuntu. It knew no prejudice. It didn't claim or try to be the OS for the 1337's. It respected humans. It gave people an easy on-ramp to a better computing experience. It gave people like you and I a means to make our world (and the world) a little better.

And so, almost 10 years later, here we are again. Except the world has become more complex and so has its problems. More than ever, humans need computers to solve big, important, world-changing problems, or simply to run their businesses and earn a living. But they don't just need one computer (like the old days). They need several, or dozens, or even hundreds of computers all working together. The means by which these computers work together is in this over-hyped term called "the cloud". Think of the cloud as a collection of computers grouped together to solve specific problems in an efficient way. We all can't afford hundreds of computers, but maybe if we all share them intelligently, we can use them to solve our problems without breaking the bank (or the bitcoin.)

So, enter the cloud. It's here. It's needed. And, it works! It's *not* hype. But, there's a problem: Confusion and complexity. Lots of it. To make use of the cloud one has to dive into a bottomless pit of arcane "kernely" "computer-sciency" concepts and commands mixed with a perilous collection of marketing buzzwords and obfuscation. It's brutal.

For the love of humanity, we don't have time for this! People need, want, and deserve a simple on-ramp to get their problems onto the cloud and solved. People need a simple tool and a simple language to describe what they want done.

A few years back, the people behind Ubuntu got involved in a big way in this thing called OpenStack. OpenStack was meant to make sharing lots of computers easier and to do so using tools (operating systems like Ubuntu, languages and technologies) that were open. Early on, the cloud ran the same risk of being all locked up in proprietary knot (just like Bug#1). Judging by the size of the OpenStack community in Paris this week, they made good progress in preventing that bleak outcome. Now more people could use Ubuntu on clouds to solve problems. But, we still couldn't claim that everyone could.

Or could we? Enter Mark, stage left. Enter Juju, stage centre.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1kGU3f5Ztwhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1kGU3f5Ztw

Mark, in his predictably excellent style (but with unconventional tactics) gave the demo by enlisting a random (chosen by paper airplane) and uninitiated (never heard of or seen Juju) audience member to set up a "workload" (i.e. a problem to be solved) on OpenStack without any assistance at all. The trick? None. The mechanism? A tool called Juju. Juju is to the cloud what Ubuntu was to arcane and frustrating operating system installs a decade ago. Juju is to the cloud what the graphical user interface (GUI) was to dinosaur operating systems before that. You know the ones... the ones that Dad used, with command lines.

This is the beginning of a new era. With inspiration from Mark, I'm calling this "Ubuntu's Second Act." Lest you think that Ubuntu's story ended when the desktop became democratized once and for all, I encourage you to tune back in and see what it is doing for the cloud.

Wow!

Information Doesn't Want to Be Free - Part 1

Last Wednesday, I was thinking of ways to spend an evening in San Francisco. Can you guess what I did? (Hint: It had nothing to do with male millionaires chasing a ball around a field... or did it?)

Admittedly, of all the personal heroes I have in my life, I've met very few of them. Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to meet one more. That's right! Doctorow! *The* Cory Doctorow himself.

I had the honour of meeting Cory and listening to his excellent lecture loosely structured around his new book, "Information Doesn't Want to Be Free".

I've just begun digging into the content of the book, but from what I have read so far, it's going to be one that will potentially resonate with a lot of people that are attracted to Ubuntu.

His trojan horse thesis: It's *people* that want to be free. Information isn't really the point and it never was.

I hope you'll also give it a read as there are some great ideas and lessons in it for not only the people that are making Ubuntu... but for everyone.

--

photo by Randall. cc-by-sa.

Make Software? Come to San Francisco and Check Out Ubuntu on Power!

Do you make software that solves real-world problems? Do you want your software to be instantly available to everyone that's building cloud solutions? Did you know that Ubuntu powers most of the cloud?

Some fun Ubuntu folks will be with their IBM and OpenPower friends just south of San Francisco, California next Wednesday (Nov. 5th, 2014) to talk about the future: Ubuntu on Power.

The event is free, but you'll have to register in advance.

Click the power button to get more information and to register!

Cheers,
Randall
Ubuntu Community Manager
Ubuntu on *Power*

--
Questions? randall AT ubuntu DOT com

Why Smart Phones Aren't - Reason #4

I used to believe that computer mediated communication made the world a better place...

Have you ever noticed a couple sitting together not being "together"? Or perhaps a group of friends eating in a restaurant or enjoying drinks in a bar, but largely not interacting with one another? In these situations, the people that seem to be the centre of the event are the people that aren't there.

"Smart" phones, you make me ill. You are incentivizing human disconnection. You are weakening the bonds between people that inhabit the same space.

You are the ultimate expression of design fail.

You see, computer mediated communications should not have a distance bias. Why only mediate conversation between people that are challenged by distance separation? By doing so, you are creating, or at least accelerating, a culture of "not being there."

You see, the most important aspect of being beside another human being is enjoying that person in the moment, with full attention. Phone, you are just too dumb to realize it. Or are you simple conveniently ignoring it for the sake of a sociopathic business model?

Guess what? You know the two people in the photo are beside each other. You also know that they are in each other's contact list. You may even know that they're on a beach. It's a romantic place. Put two and two together, please.

Figure it out, phone! For the sake of humanity, this is not the 80's. It's time to wise up. Prince Ea and I and our posse are on to you...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

---
Our best chance at a phone that repects humanity is here:
http://www.ubuntu.com/phone

More reasons "smart" phones aren't are here:
http://blog.josephliau.com/documenting-the-death-of-the-dumb-telephone-p...
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones03
http://blog.josephliau.com/documenting-the-death-of-the-dumb-telephone-p...
http://blog.josephliau.com/documenting-the-death-of-the-dumb-telephone-p...
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones02
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones01

---
image by Leo Reynolds
https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/

On Changes, Ubuntu, "Magic Spells", and Real Power

In a previous blog post, I hinted at a recent happy development in my life/career that I would like to share with you today...

Many of you know me from my involvement in building local communities that are passionate about Ubuntu. I've been at this for nearly 7 years now as a volunteer and it's something I'm very passionate about. (Note: Friends and family sometimes use different adjectives.)

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/RandallRoss

Over this time, I've had the privilege to meet and to work with many brilliant people in Vancouver BC, the community-at-large and also in the part of the community that is Canonical. (Yes, it's all community.) I've met rock stars, both literally and figuratively. They've encouraged and inspired me and finally opportunity knocked, and I answered.

I am happy to announce that I am Ubuntu's newest Community Manager.

My focus (at least initially) will be growing a large and thriving community around the architecture that powers the world's fastest computers. Think really big iron. Think Watson. Think chess. But more than that, think solving real-world problems the fastest way possible, with Power!

Ubuntu already has the beginnings of a great story on Power. I am tremendously excited about the potential of the "magic" that is Ubuntu with Juju and MaaS to launch solutions on Power hardware nearly effortlessly. I'm here to help the community that wants to change the world make that happen.

Click me: Push the button to see Power!Click me: Push the button to see Power!

Please join me. If you're a Power advocate, developer, architect, systems administrator, researcher, or anyone who's just interested in Ubuntu on Power, please send me a note and introduce yourself. Let's work together!

randall AT ubuntu DOT com

--

Note: I'm not replacing Jono Bacon, As many of you know, he's moved on to solve some world problems that are "not just software" and Dave Planella and team are filling those big shoes.


image by Thom Watson
https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomwatson/
and modified by me.

Happy 10th Birthday Ubuntu!

Ubuntu is 10 today! That's reason to celebrate.

I encourage everyone who's ever enjoyed or contributed to Ubuntu to find the most fun, outrageous, and outlandish birthday photo you can and show it to three people you know who have never heard of (or tried) Ubuntu. Then post it to Planet Ubuntu (or to your favourite place if you can't post here). (If you're not a Planet Ubuntu author, please link to your post in the comments so others can find it here.)

Here's my favourite birthday photo:

Put Orange Candles on Your Head and Celebrate Ubuntu!Put Orange Candles on Your Head and Celebrate Ubuntu!

10 years may seem like an eternity in the tech world, but I like to remind people that we're only part way along the journey to create technology that respects humans, doesn't treat them as "users", and gives them a voice in the decision-making process. Look around you. Is your technology serving you, or are you part of a predatory business model? Are your friends and family enjoying Ubuntu yet?

I once heard that the path to widespread Ubuntu adoption would be a 20-year journey. I can't remember who to attribute this to, but if you're reading, please chime in, and please accept my thanks for setting realistic expectations. This is a struggle that won't be over soon, but we're well on our way.

I am honoured to be part of the Ubuntu family, and I'm looking forward to the next 10 years. When we have our 20th, the world will be a *much* better place, thanks in part to the wonderful people who make Ubuntu.

And, finally, no Happy Birthday message for Ubuntu would be complete without thanking Mark "sabdl" Shuttleworth. Thank you Mark for being the change you want to see in the world and for inspiring so many (myself included) to work on something meaningful.

--

image by Bart
https://www.flickr.com/photos/cayusa/

Ubuntu Contributors' Guide

I spent a few minutes this morning writing the comprehensive Ubuntu Contributors' Guide.

Here it is in all its glory:

Yes, that's really all there is to it. It's simple.

As obvious as this seems, there are people (names withheld) that will want you to believe otherwise. I'll elaborate in a future post.

When you encounter them, please forward a copy of this flow chart. Tell them Randall sent you.

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