terriko: (Default)
The scare quotes are because neither of these things should have been accomplishments at all, since they should have just worked. Since they didn't, though, I'm blogging for posterity with links to the things that helped me solve the problems.

Short version: I now have 8gb of ram that works, a backup drive that doesn't, a Mailman dev environment that half works, and I kinda hate Apple. )

I'm tired and cranky, but I'm determined to win this... tomorrow.

Also, I made myself cookies, so that's something.
terriko: I am a serious academic (Twlight Sparkle looking confused) (Serious Academic)
This was originally posted on But Grace, but I don't want my regular blog to wind up devoid of technical content so I'll be crostposting all my posts from there in their entirety, I suspect.

One of the cool things going on at work is some software we have that automates the creation of small bug fixes. We're looking to try it on some more active projects with real bugs, but we need projects with reasonable test case coverage so that the automated system can also ensure that it isn't causing other things to break in making the fix. Basically, we're potentially offering up a bunch of free bugfixes if your open source project has decent test cases. Pretty good deal, I hope.

Open source projects with good test suites

But how do we find software with good test cases? Here's a few I know of off the top of my head:

Open source projects with good test suites

Name/URLTest suite?Notes
Firefox A brief search turns up some automated tests My fuzzy memory suggests there was more than these...
Gnumeric Extensive regression tests for each function The function tests are in .xls spreadsheets, so we could potentially apply them to other spreadsheet software.
SQLite They claim extensive test coverage Very promising!
Webkit (Chrome, Safari) a brief web search turns up regression tests for javascript I believe the Chromium project has even more tests

Can anyone suggest other software or more details (and better links) on the things I have mentioned already?

Open source routing software

For various reasons, I've been encouraged to try experiments on open source routing software. There's some existing academic literature on the types of bugs found in open source routers, and it seems like our automated patch creation system would be a good fit especially since router bugs often cause huge outages or security problems and having a temporary patch to solve the problem right away could be a huge boon.

My query on twitter generated a nice list of open source router software, but no one seems to know anything about test suites. Here's a table summarizing what I've found thus far:

Open source router software test suite information

Name/URLTest suite?Notes
Click Unknown Nothing obvious, and given that it's on a university website, I'll be shocked if it has testing. ;)
dd-WRT Unknown Nothing obvious in the wiki, but there were lots of hits I haven't investigated.
OpenWRT Unknown Clearly there was interest in automated test suites in Jan 2011 but it's unclear to me if these are now around somewhere. Need to look more.
pfSense No evidence of a test suite Searching the dev wiki for "test" yields nothing likely, so I'm guessing there isn't one.
Quagga There is a tests/ directory, but it looks unsuitable "make test" doesn't work and "make check" pokes a bunch of directories but doesn't seem to do what I need. There's a directory called tests/ in the repository, but I'm not sure what it does. I can run the tests manually, but the output is currently meaningless to me. No one answered my question on #quagga, although another open source friend on #kernel.org suggested that the test suite may have been abandoned.
Tomato No evidence of a test suite The web site contains nothing useful, so if there is a test suite, it's likely being provided by someone else.
XORP There is a tests/ directory, unsure if suitable but look promising These look promising, but I'm having some build errors and haven't been able to run them yet

You'd think, perhaps, that reasonable test suites for routers would already exist. A generic test suite would be totally sufficient for my needs at the moment. And in fact, I've found a set of routing tests from the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory, but while their tests are well-described, it doesn't look like something we can run locally and repeatedly as we'd need to in order to test the auto-generated patches. I haven't yet found others.

Let's be clear: I don't really care what the router supports in great detail. The important thing for these tests are that there be a good test suite, and preferably a good bug queue so we can grab candidate bugs and bug test cases to try to solve them. Generally speaking, the bugs have been easier to find than the regression tests.

In summary...

I am looking for:

1. More information about router test suites.
2. Updates to my current tables of information. This represents a morning's work, so I'd be shocked if they're perfectly correct.
3. Any open source/free software projects with good test suites (and preferably good bug queues).

Again, the key here is that I need good test suites. I'm most interested in routing software at the moment, but I'm building up a list of alternative ideas if that doesn't pan out, so anything with good automated tests I'll be able to run repeatedly is of potential interest. We've got access to a reasonable amount of computing power, so heavier weight tests are fine as long as they aren't going to take all month to run.

We would love to contribute any fixes we find back to the community, so if you think your project might qualify please get in touch! I think the end result is going to be awesome for all involved: free bug fixes for the project, more impressive real-world validation of our automated patch creation system, and maybe even an academic paper out of it for some of the folk around here.
terriko: (Pi)
Honestly, I think I make more resolutions after GHC than I do at new year's. I'm always so inspired!

Thing 1: Pushing the development of the GNU Mailman UI

Two things came together for me at the conference:

1. One thing I heard frequently while working the free and open source software booth is that there are plenty of folk interested in getting involved with open source, but they're not sure where to start.

2. I came home with a suitcase full of paper prototypes and pictures from the Mailman 3.0 part of the codeathon for humanity on Saturday. I was looking at spending my evenings digitizing them and turning them into functional prototypes.

So... I asked for help! Transcribing paper prototypes isn't the most glamorous of work, but it's a great place for a beginner to start, and given that we're hoping to have a Mailman 3.0 release as soon as possible, new contributors would have a chance to ramp up to doing real code commits very quickly. Plus they'd be able to see their code go out and be used in the real world sooner rather than later!

I posted to the Systers list knowing I wasn't the only one feeling the post GHC rush, and I posted to the Mailman list knowing we had a would-be contributor who wanted to help.

What I wasn't expecting was that I'd have talked to NINE volunteers in less than 24 hours. How awesome is that? And most of them are women as well!

Now I have the problem of making sure I have enough for everyone to do, but with a variety of skill levels I'm sure we won't have any trouble finding stuff for everyone. I'm so excited, and I hope they are too!

Associated goals:
- Allocating more of my time to serious Mailman development.
- Getting more women involved in open source.
- Improving the usability of Mailman 3.0
- Speeding up development of the Mailman 3.0 UI.
- Doing some teaching/mentoring since I love it but won't be doing it at work this year.

Thing 2: e-textiles

The first thing I did after I got home from GHC11 was sleep. But when I woke up in the middle of the night, the second thing I did was order stuff from SparkFun. :)

I've ordered a couple of simple e-textiles kits and the goal will be to play with them. I made an awesome monster at the GHC e-textiles workshop and I was eager to do more. The end goal is to build a set of lights into my new coat that respond to my movement in some way (See the tentative wishlist), but for now I'm going to make a lit cuff/armband for walking at night and experiment with the neat little aniomagic chip 'cause it looks like so much fun!

Associated goals:
- meeting more people in the local community
- actually becoming a member of a hacklab to support my projects
- making it safer for me to walk home in my beautiful-but-not-visible new black coat
- experimenting with e-textiles
- doing some more hardware-oriented projects
- making sure I had a project that would take me away from the computer

Not-quite-a-Thing 3: Not biting off more than I can chew

A common theme at GHC is reminding people that we have to really be careful about time management so that we don't get overloaded, so I'm choosing those two things that cover lots of my personal goals, and I'll aim to do them well and save the other things I want to try for later. Wish me luck!

I'd love to hear how other people are using what they learned at GHC11!
terriko: (Default)
People often comment on the number of ribbons on my badge, and I always tell them that I get a lot of them because I like volunteering at GHC. Volunteering every year keeps me with a nice balance of meeting new people and having an excuse to sit and chat with friends who I met volunteering in previous years. Plus, badge ribbons are just fun:

My day started with an orientation for Hoppers, and I was not nearly awake enough to take pictures of that.

From there, I headed to the Free and Open Source Software booth, which is kinda unusual among the booths at GHC11 in that we're a collection of people working on completely unrelated projects, and you'll get to hear about completely different things if you come back a few hours later. Plus, some of the coolest and most inspirational women I know are working at the booth. One of the things about open source is that it attracts a lot of people who are willing to just Get Things Done and who are able to not only get the technical details right, but also able to organize their own time and other people's to make sure things happen. If you went to Jo's session in the afternoon and realized you want to be known as the sort of person who really gets stuff done, you should be looking to these people for tips!

Then I moved on to the PhD Forum. Here's pictures of the lovely presenters, but I'm too tired to dig out my session notes so I'll just suggest you mosey on over to Valerie's blog about the session.

There's a blur of meeting people and chatting and getting caught up between every session. It's awesome!

I also got a chance to meet with the other community volunteers, yet another illustrious crew of smart awesome women who are passionate about using social media and all our other tech tools to share the experience of being at GHC11 online. Anyone who comes to GHC11 and takes a picture, writes a blog post, tweets, and participates in our online communities can be part of our team! If you want to know how to contribute your stuff to the online communities, just ask!

A few people were willing to humour me today by playing "real life angry birds" with me at the open source booth. I crocheted a bunch of birds to play with, and used it as an excuse to take pictures as a community volunteer. Lots of people have asked if they can have one, and I wish I had time to crochet them for everyone, but alas, I'd get a hand cramp long before I finished! However, please stop by the booth and play with them and take pictures over the next few days, just remember to leave them for the next visitors.

Next up, I went to Jo Miller's session on building your personal brand. Once again, I suggest you visit Valerie's blog to learn more about Jo's talk. I'm going to echo what someone I talked to today said and point out that the neat thing about Jo is how she really motivates this stuff. Brand-building sounds like marketing or startup culture speak to me, but she had a great story about a women she met who felt she was "the best-kept secret of the company" -- but you don't want to be a secret! I may write a post about this later, but for now, read Valerie's. :)

Towards the end of the session they did a speed-networking thing, and I totally made the rookie mistake of leaving my business cards in my purse when we got up to stand on this weird grid thing to facilitate moving and networking. The most amusing moment for me was when we got over and everyone was too busy networking to listen to the instructions on how we should network!

Then it was back to the open source booth for me, where I got to talk to more super cool people and play more angry birds:

I talked about how open source is awesome when you're in grad school. I talked about to get internships at open source companies or through google summer of code (we loooove students!) I talked about what drew me to GNU Mailman (short answer: technology that helps build communities and fun developers to work with!) And I got to hear about people's backgrounds and worries and projects and how their companies use open source software.

Then my final job of the evening was as a Hopper working the registration desk. I figured after the bustle of the open source booth, working a quiet registration desk would be boring... But I sat down next to Kate and had a blast talking about Margaret Atwood, working in technology while wearing a skirt or even a suit, our (relatively) new jobs, and everything else we could think of for a few hours. It was great!

And then back to the free and open source booth where I got to sit and chat with Mel who I admit I probably fangirled all over because I love the way she's been blogging about viewing academia from an open source perspective, and she is just totally one of those people who always seems to be doing cool things and thinking about them in insightful ways and I was so very exited to meet her. Hopefully i didn't talk her ear off too much, given how tired we all were by this point!

When the show floor closed up, it was time to head back to the hotel, and now I've stayed up too late processing photos and blogging. Oops! Tomorrow's 7:45am breakfast meeting with my security panel is going to feel very early!

But thankfully, you don't have to get up before 7:45 to talk about the panel; you can all just come see the finished product at 11:30am-12:30pm in B113-115 where I'm on a panel about online security for technical women. Hope to see you there!
terriko: (Default)
The job: Postdoc at the University of New Mexico

I'm going to be starting a postdoc at the University of New Mexico this fall.

I was fortunate enough to have some great interviews and offers, but I chose UNM because I was guaranteed to be doing the sort of research I find most interesting there, and because the people are fantastic. It was actually the only place where I got much chance to meet my prospective colleagues so I know I'm joining a very interesting team of biologists, software engineers and security folk. Part of my job will involve being the glue between the 4 teams, so I'm likely going to work with a lot of different people on a regular basis!

One of the researchers compared the project to skynet, and it's actually disturbingly apt, although thus far without the homicidal AI. Maybe that's where I come in? More seriously, I'll be working on biologically-inspired artificial life / computer immunology for security applications. Their early results are insanely promising, and I'm really excited about working in a space where no one will be fazed by my use of biological metaphors for things. (I was raised by wolves biologists, recall.)

And yes, for those of you who heard about some of my other contract negotiations: this postdoc does mean that I'll be able to continue working in open source and more specifically that I'll be able to continue working on Mailman. I'm all excited about doing some informal user testing on the work our Summer of Code students have produced, so expect to see me asking for help with that once I'm settled.

The move: Albuquerque, NM

John and I were down house hunting this past week, and have secured the most beautiful apartment for Sept 1st. I wish I'd taken pictures to show you; it's really gorgeous with high ceilings, this nifty kitchen, and even a hammock in the backyard. The landlords actually knew and could name their neighbours, which makes me feel better about the neighbourhood, and it'll be an easy bike ride in to the university which alleviates my need to buy a car right away. It'll be just me there for at least the first few months, but there's enough space for John to move in later. There is also a full guest bedroom, so please consider coming to visit!

Moving is... going to be a pain. The quotes I've got today run $5-6.5k, and I've been allotted a $1.5k moving allowance. The cheap quote is from PODS, assuming I move a 8x8x16 pod which they recommend for a 2-bedroom, but I may phone them again for the 8x7x7 sized quote since I'm planning on leaving a lot of my furniture behind. Currently planning on taking my bed, a couple of the good bookshelves, clothes, kitchenalia, and a few boxes of books. It may make more sense to ditch the bed and just ship small boxes, though; we'll see. Moving recommendations appreciated.

The thesis

Is not yet complete -- my supervisor just got back from a family event last night and is back to editing today, so I'll be back to revisions later this evening. I really hope this can be done soon!
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