Next Billion Connected

Dell’s Next Billion video would inspire me more if Dell genuinely supported Linux to consumers instead of actively promoting Windows almost everywhere I see Dell.

Scheduling Algorithms

One learns a lot about scheduling when working with many different schedules hoping for a harmonious and predictable result. My background in mathmatics and studies of project management scheduling algorithms has given me a good background. I apologize in advance for some of the specific vagueness.

Very inflexible schedule elements make everything feel much more difficult. Whether the inflexible elements are imposed in a seemingly arbitrary way or because of contingencies along a chain of events the consequences of a missed segment can feel disappointing. Sometimes the bad effects can cascade. Opportunity costs must be weighed against the measures taken to make things work as planned.

Sometimes the result is simply too unpredictable so the system must be treated as a black box. The costs of planning can actually exceed the time saved. Best efforts and adapting/pivoting is required. Results must be accepted for what they are, a best result given the amount of variability in the system. It is good enough so use energy where it will yield a better return on investment.

I consider myself a patient person, yet recent exercises have given me a new appreciation for the patience and planning required when dealing with these particular complex systems.

P. S. Thanks for reading. I have been focusing on writing in other places but I intend to write more frequently on this blog now.


Touch Demo Preparation

Earlier today I prepared to demo the latest daily build of Ubuntu Touch for the San Francisco Ubuntu Hour on a Nexus 7 device. I needed to do a few things. Continue reading

OLPC SF Community Summit


The olpc community is gathering this weekend, Oct 19-21, for the annual summit at San Francisco State University sponsored by By proclamation it’s OLPC day in San Francisco again! Our Sat & Sun schedule from 10AM-4:30PM looks good. Confirmed attendees include Mary Lou Jepsen, Brian Behlendorf, Daniel Drake, Matt Keller, Richard Smith, C Scott Ananian, Bernie Innocenti, Sameer Verma, about 150 people in all.

Many people that put GNU/Linux laptops (over 2.5 million and counting) in kids hands all over the world are flying here to collaborate and discuss their successes and challenges. Some members like David Farning and I from our Ubuntu Sugar Team will be participating with Fedora Ambassadors, Sugar Labs and others. Stay for the Sugar Camp immediately following the summit at SFSU in the same location next week.

UDS Lightning Talk – Local Schools

CACS Partimus LabHere is the text of my lightning talk.

Good afternoon! My name is Grant Bowman.

First, I want to thank Ubuntu for choosing this UDS location. It’s very exciting to have you all here. I’m a local. I would like to plug all the hard working San Francisco Bay Area groups I am privileged to be involved with but I need to highlight just one right now.

I would like to pause for a moment with you to zoom out quite a bit just for a second. Schools around the world are literally the place where the minds of our next generation are shaped. As social networking and new research confirms, the human condition is predicated on what Edward O Wilson calls eusociality or, more simply, “fitting in.” My colleagues and I have seen the need to “fit in” manifest itself time and again here in California and through travels to places like August Town, Jamaica and Nairobi, Kenya. Highly social school administrators are not immune. Luckily this eusociality is a double edged sword. It can work in both directions. Let me “take you to school.”

Even in these times of financial challenges, school district administrators, principals, teachers, parents and students still clamour to allocate a very significant amount of their overall resources to the purchase of poorly made computing products. This is directly due to public misconceptions. With a foundation of education these misconceptions can be changed.

As far as design & usability, Ubuntu is now leading the state of the art rather than following. We are experiencing a innovative, disruptive computing transition as described by Clayton Christianson in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Poorly made computing products guarantee vendors upgrade sales. This contrasts with how we do things. As Eric Raymond describes, we are able to scratch our own itches and share our improvements for mutual benefit. We operate in the open in a bazaar style.

Closed source vendor lock-in creates a cycle of dependency in hearts and minds of all ages just at a time when students are looking to authority figures to show them how best to move forward. *We* know that free and open source specifically and Creative Commons more generally are game changers. Tim O’Reilly calls us alpha geeks. The public is slowly becoming more aware.

The significant resources closed source vendors direct at our common future are shaping the computing platform choices we and our neighbors use both publicly and privately. The longer we wait the worse this problem becomes. As we know, now is always the best time for engaging.

We would like to contribute back our hard won lessons, build our capacity and replicate our best practices in similar environments. In the 1970s Dr. Douglas C Engelbart called this structure a set of improvement communities. His papers are well worth reading to this day.

Partimus means “we share” in Latin. For those that haven’t heard yet, we are a locally operating 501(c)(3). We bring repurposed hardware, our favorite GNU/Linux distribution, free and open source applications and free culture content to San Francisco and Oakland schools. We are deeply involved in community building efforts. We need your support to continue to provide and grow our program as we have done for the past eight years. If you are able to help us, please contact me, Elizabeth Krumbach or the email address Lyz and I are happy to speak with you. Lyz also has Ubuntu earrings for sale, a fundraiser we are conducting on our website,

Oh, wear sunscreen. Thank you very, very much.


Just over a week ago my girlfriend, her family and I spent a beautiful lunch in the sun under large, white, cool umbrellas with fantastic food, drinks and service. I was meeting many of them for the first time. I think we all enjoyed ourselves and I heard I made a solid first impression. While I was not particularly apprehensive I did wear nice clothes for the occasion.

As we were leaving the area her parents were driving and we were in the back seat. We were involved in a two car accident. My girlfriend had a forehead laceration that required twelve stitches, severe concussion, a ride in an ambulance and an overnight stay at the local hospital. The rest of us had some bumps and bruises which are now healing. We are all still recovering from the shock and are all incredibly grateful for walking away from this accident.

Since I wouldn’t hear of leaving my girlfriend in the hospital alone I stayed despite the official visitor policy. Some rules can thankfully be finessed to accommodate unusual circumstances. Hospitals are not my favorite place in the world but this and other experiences have shown me that caring, dedicated doctors and staff are quite common, helping others through difficult health situations. In the case of hospice when nothing else can be done the staff can help people end their life with dignity and help the families with such a difficult event. So I have had enough experience to accept the pace of all the interruptions of peaceful rest for tests, beeping machines and “doctor’s orders” carried out by the male nurses that were so helpful and kind to my girlfriend during her time there.

The automobile we were riding in and the other automobile will both likely be deemed “totaled” by the insurance companies. I won’t be posting the pictures I took but no picture can adequately capture what it was like. It could have been a whole lot worse. Our tow truck driver confirmed this after he has been working for two days straight towing cars after similar (and worse) accidents in the area. Whatever financial impact and inconvenience may follow, the real lesson to keep in mind is that we all are walking away from this accident.

At times like these our choices are most telling. Sometimes sad people feel sad. Sometimes angry people feel angry. A wake up call like this is a rare opportunity to examine our choices and review the life affirming choices we have already made in new light. We are a product of our choices and it feels most real and evident when faced with life threatening events. If this writing helps remind anyone of the wonder and fragility of life then I walked away from that accident for a reason. I look forward to doing all I can to capitalize on this renewed opportunity to touch people’s lives in some small way. 12.04 LTS Presentation Tues, April 17th

pangolin imageTomorrow at 8pm the unstoppable Elizabeth Krumbach and I will be presenting on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin. Please arrive at 6:30pm to eat dinner with us before the presentation. 12.04 is scheduled for release into the wild April 26th joining the existing eight mammal pangolin species in Africa and Asia. We are presenting in San Francisco’s Chinatown at the Four Seas Restaurant at the monthly Bay Area Linux User’s Group meeting. The website has more details. The Four Seas is located at 732 Grant Ave @ Clay a few blocks from the Montgomery St BART station. A handout will be provided highlighting changes such as default DNS handling with resolvconf and dnsmasq, RC6, Ubuntu Core and OpenStack.

We are excited to host this meeting just 20 days in advance of UDS just across the bay in Oakland, CA May 7-11.