Sunday, July 20, 2008

I've Been Coding

Maybe it's no surprise to you that I've been writing a lot of code lately. Looking at the home page of my blog right now, I have a lot of articles that are more about Linux than about food. But even though I'm the one that's been writing the code, it actually came as a bit of a surprise to me when I finally realized it.

It happened today. I'm teaching a 6-day class this week, and since we're the only ones in the building this Sunday, the training center was so kind as to buy us pizza for lunch. When all was said and done, we had most of a cheese and most of a sausage pizza left over. I stashed the extras in the fridge and moved on with the class.

The last time I did this class at this training center, I was instructed to put any leftovers in the fridge for the staff. I was given no such direction this time. I offered leftovers to the students, and when they all declined, I took it all back to the hotel with me for dinner. I did pretty much the same thing a couple of weeks ago in Phoenix when the training center bought too much pasta from Pizza Hut.

As I was packing up this afternoon, getting the pizza ready to take with me, I realized something. I've been told before that there are two types of people: those who live to eat and those who eat to live. I've been of the first time since long before it occured to me to even enroll in cooking school. But before I discovered Food Network, I was the type that ate to live. You see, when you're writing code, there tends to be a lot of stuff that gets in the way. Basically, anything that causes you to not write code is something that gets in the way. When you're taking a break to eat, you're not writing code.

This is something that my boss doesn't seem to understand about me. I come from a geek culture. Before I ever learned how to cook, I was a geek who often ate only because if I didn't, I would eventually be unable to write code. Today I realized that I had suddenly fallen back into my old pattern.

I love teaching Linux, so I don't know if my job qualifies yet as something that gets in the way of coding. But when I get back to the hotel, I have two options: I can go out and eat at a nice restaurant with my meal allowance, or I can order pizza or room service (last night, effectively the same thing) and code while waiting for it, and then code while eating it.

Fortunately this evening, sanity prevailed. I walked across the hotel parking lot to the Bob Evans restaurant and ordered a turkey dinner. To go, of course. There's coding to be done. It took forever and a half for my food to get ready, and I grew increasingly impatient as I waited for it. I still haven't finished it. There's blogging to be done, which is like coding, except that the output is easier for most people to read.

So right now I'm in programmer mode. Yesterday I had my laptop out on the flight over, and was knee-deep in Perl modules as the in-flight movie remained largely forgotten. I don't know how long I'll be in programmer mode. Hopefully I can convince myself to cook a dish or two when I get back in town next week.

One question remains unanswered. Why did I grab the spare pizza if I knew I was going to go to Bob Evans anyway? Between last night and today, I now have enough pizza to last me for dinner an entire week. See, that's called planning. Maybe not smart planning, but definitely efficient planning. Yet more proof that I'm in programmer mode, right?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Utah Open Source Conference 2008

It's official: I will be presenting again at this year's Utah Open Source Conference. Unlike last year, this will not be a cooking demo. Guru Labs has given me permission to present an excerpt from our upcoming course, Shell Scripting for System Administration. Specifically, I will be giving an introduction to the Perl programming language. Barring any unforeseen events, I'm also planning on having handouts.

This presentation will be targeted at those who are already comfortable in a shell environment, but have decided to move beyond the confines of classic shell scripting. I've often told people that there is a point in which a Bash script can become so advanced that it is time to port it over to another language. This generally happens about the time the script needs to handle any kind of non-integer math, or do any other kind of real thinking. There are a variety of excellent languages out there suitable for system administration, and I have enjoyed working with Perl for years.

Speaking of the other languages, I'm delighted to see that Matt Harrison will be presenting on "90% of the Python you need to know". Python has certainly become another important language in the tool of system administration, especially in the Red Hat and Gentoo worlds. Even better, that presentation is scheduled far apart enough from mine that I can attend it as well. I also saw a presentation on the list for Ruby, another up and coming language in the sysadmin world, but it doesn't look like so much of a "getting started in Ruby" type thing.

Those of you who haven't registered yet for the conference, now's the time to do it. The price of admission goes up August 7th, so sooner is better than later. Also, if you're a member of one of the LUGs in Utah, you'll want to check with your group officers and see if they have a promotional code for you to get a discount.

I'm really looking forward to this year's conference. We'll see you there!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Today's Thing the TSA Doesn't Like


That's right. The TSA would not let me fly with a container of sugar and ground almonds. Why? Because it's a paste, of course.

Here's my favorite part. The man told me that I had three options: I could have him escort me to someplace where I could mail it and then back through security, I could put it in my carry-on bag and have him escort me to the ticket counter to have them check my bag, or I could have him just toss it.

I'm not going to mail it. The shipping alone would likely cost more than it would to just stop by the supermarket on the way home from the airport and pick up a new tube. I also don't check bags. In my experience, there are only two types of luggage: carry-on and lost. This seems to be particularly true with Skywest, which is who I was flying with that day. Why Delta seems more interested in letting somebody else handle their flights for them is beyond me.

To me, it seemed perfectly logical to tell the man to just chuck it. But since he works for the TSA, logic works differently for him. He asked me three times if I was sure that I wanted to do that. Each time I told him yes. The last time I looked directly into his eyes when I told him that. I don't know why that works, but it does. He let me go on my merry way.