dmuth's blog

My MidWest FurFest Duty Hours

Shia Moorhen and Keenora

MidWest FurFest is just around the corner, and I will be working in Convention Operations (ConOps) for Takaza.

Here are my duty hours:

Thursday: 1:30 PM to 4 PM
Friday: 4 PM to 7 PM
Saturday: 4 PM to 8 PM
Sunday: 4 PM to 8 PM

Outside of those hours, I look forward to hanging out with friends, flailing around at the dances, and generally having fun. I'll see you there!

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Furfright 2013 Wrapup

Another fun year at FurFright! FurFright was held October 25th-27th, 2013 at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Cromwell, CT.

Once again, I worked security, and during the off hours I got to socialize with friends, and make a few new ones.

I didn't get to see as much of the con as I'd like, since I had some really whacky shifts. (Midnight to 4 AM, then a 4 AM to 8 AM shift)

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Upcoming Presentation at GoLangPhilly

Interested in the Go Programming language? I will be presenting a web crawler which I wrote in Google Go on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at DramaFever's offices in Narberth, PA. More information about the meetup can be found on meetup.com.

For those curious about my web crawler or would like to check out the source, the source is up on GitHub.

Finally, for anyone who is curious, here is a sequence diagram of how my web crawler works:

I hope to see everyone there!

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My Experience as a Mentor at PilotPhilly

On the weekend of November 9th and 10th, 2013 I had the pleasure of participating at PilotPhilly. PilotPhilly was a 24 hour hackathon for high school students. While I am not a high school student, I am a software engineer and the event put out the call for engineers to help out at the event as mentors. As a mentor, my job was to provide guidance to participants and give them suggestions if they became stuck on a problem.

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A 360 degree panorama of the hackathon

The hackathon ran from 1 PM on Saturday to 1 PM on Sunday. Sunday afternoon, every group presented their projects. Some projects were serious, some not so serious, and some were downright hysterical.

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The app "QuickMunch" is presented
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My presentation on the Node.js Seq module

My presentation on the Seq module from the Node.js Philly Meetup is now online.

Here's how to view it:


git clone git@github.com:dmuth/nodejs-presentations.git

open seq.html # On a Mac, this will open in your browser

Enjoy, and feel free to send me any questions you may have about Seq!

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Philly DevOps Meetup Notes, September 2013


"I LOVE Boxen!"

I attended tonight's Philly DevOps Meetup at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia, PA. As a service to the tech community, I decided to share the notes I took from the presentations.

Boxen (presented by Adam Ochonicki):

  • configuration management for Macs
  • Does things like installs Skype, VLC, etc.
  • is a wrapper for Puppet
  • Warnings:
    • Installs its own Homebrew and rbenv
    • Installs services on non-standard ports
    • YMMV on "older" hardware
  • http://boxen.github.com/

Docker (presented by Dave Konopka):

  • Docker is to Linux containers what Vagrant is to VMs
  • Linux containers (lxc): isolate proceses, files, and networking running on a host system
  • AUFS: Layered file system
  • Docker is NOT:
    • package manager
    • configuration management
    • VM
  • Requirements:
    • 3.8 kernel
    • LXC and AUFS support
  • Layered file system:
    • Base image can be shared across multiple docker containers
  • Unlike VMs, the guest OSes and kernels are not duplicated
  • Host kernel + smaller resource footprint + layered file system = insanely fast spinup
  • Can run on top of other forms of virtualization (EC2)
  • Starting a container:
    • Spawn a container from an image
    • Fire one process
  • Repositories
  • Ideal use cases:
    • Experiment with distributed applications
    • Portable stand alone applications
    • App deployment
    • Replicate test environments
    • High number of concurrent isolated "systems"
  • "production ready" due in October, 2014
  • https://www.docker.io/
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My BronyCon 2013 Writeup

Earlier this month I attended BronyCon, a convention for "bronies", or people who are fans of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic". With over 8,000 attendees, it is the biggest convention of its kind.

"You're a brony?"

No, I do not identify as a brony. I've seen the show, and it's good animation and solid storytelling. If I had children, I'd watch the show. But I do not feel enough of a connection at this time to self-identify as a brony.

"Why'd you go, then?"

A few reasons. First, I was curious about the brony fandom, especially its explosive growth--BronyCon is only 3 years old, and they had over 8,000 attendees this year. Second, I wanted to work a convention outside of my comfort zone for a change. Third... we kinda had a staff swap going. At Anthrocon last month, BronyCon's Operations Director worked for me in my department. So I returned the favor and worked for BronyCon this year.

VIPR Group Photo Fursuiters at BronyCon DSC_7763


"Wait, what? You were staff there!?"

Yep, I worked for the VIP Relations team, or VIPR for short. One difference between BronyCon and other kinds of conventions I worked is the larger number of guests who are voice actors and relatively famous in real life. Due to the increased attention that guests would get, each guest had a "handler" assigned to them for the duration of the convention. That means your schedule is your guest's schedule. You meet your guest in the hotel when they head out in the morning, and you're on duty until they head back to their hotel for the night. You are responsible for escorting them to each panel and stage appearance on time, and are basically their Point of Contact for the convention itself.

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My Anthrocon 2013 Report

We had another amazing year at Anthrocon 2013 in Pittsburgh!

Statistics

Let's start with some statistics:

  • Total number of attendees at Anthrocon 2013: 5,577
  • Total number of fursuits in the Fursuit Parade: 1,300
  • We raised over $31,000 for our charity: Equine Angels Rescue. Great job, everybody!
  • Next year's Anthrocon will be held: July 3rd to 6th, 2014. The theme will be: "Secret Societies"
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Meanwhile, in the Operations Office

My primary responsibility at Anthrocon is to manage The Operation Office, known more informally as "Con Ops". Among other customer service-oriented functions, we also handled Lost and Found and Volunteers. This year, we tried splitting those tasks off into their own areas. Lost and Found was headed up by Jasper Blue, while Volunteer Coordination was run by Kasi Frost.

Both of these ideas worked out really well. Jasper kept track of all lost and found items in a spreadsheet and was able to more effectively assist people who came by Con Ops looking for lost items. (You'd be surprised how many cell phones are lost each year...) On the volunteer side of things, Kasi came up with some new ideas for managing volunteers, and was able to capture detailed data on how many volunteer hours were put in on each day of the convention, and in what departments. It will help us plan volunteer requirements better in future years.

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Social Media

I stepped things up a bit on the social media side this year and that investment paid off quite well. I tried a few new things for the first time:

1) Many many tweets. I used HootSuite to manage our social media accounts. In addition to just posting, I scheduled 60+ posts to be sent out on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus over the course of the convention announcing major events, Guest of Honor panels, and announcements for the Fursuit Parade. Since it can take 30-45 minutes to get to Hall A from The Westin due to elevators, I set up HootSuite to start tweeting announcements about the parade early Saturday morning, and increased the frequency of the tweets and posts through the 1:50 PM "door closing" time. I'd like to think that helped increase turnout at the parade.

2) Customer Service. Since my iPhone can be set up as an Internet access point, I did so and then used my iPad to watch the various social media sites. When a concern about Anthrocon came up, I was able to address it in near real-time. For example, there was a miscommunication between about water bottles being allowed in the Dealers Room and attendees with them were turned away at the door. As soon as I saw it mentioned on Twitter, I was able to relay it to our Security Chief who then let the rest of people on security know that personal water bottles were allowed. Total time to resolve: 10 minutes. I was able to address other issues and answer questions during the convention in this manner as well.

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Introducing Multiping: An Easy Way to Ping Multiple Hosts

Yet another day with 8% packet loss from Comcast, it seems. In a fit of frustration, I spent half an hour and wrote a tool that can be used to ping multiple hosts at the same time, for the purpose of making sure that the problem isn't external to Comcast's network.

Here's how to install it:

git clone git@github.com:dmuth/unix-utils.git

Here's how to use it:

./multiping google.com xe-3-1-3-0-ar03.newcastle.de.panjde.comcast.net

xe-3-1-3-0-ar03.newcastle.de.panjde.comcast.net is a router on Comcast's network which is upstream of myself and one of my neighbors, whom is experiencing the same issue.

And here's what the output looks like:

google.com: icmp_seq=33 ttl=55 time=16.950 ms
xe-3-1-3-0-ar03.newcastle.de.panjde.comcast.net: icmp_seq=33 ttl=61 time=14.612 ms
xe-3-1-3-0-ar03.newcastle.de.panjde.comcast.net: icmp_seq=34 ttl=61 time=14.525 ms
google.com: Request timeout for icmp_seq 34
google.com: icmp_seq=35 ttl=55 time=17.031 ms
xe-3-1-3-0-ar03.newcastle.de.panjde.comcast.net: icmp_seq=35 ttl=61 time=13.550 ms
google.com: icmp_seq=36 ttl=55 time=14.822 ms
xe-3-1-3-0-ar03.newcastle.de.panjde.comcast.net: icmp_seq=36 ttl=61 time=13.404 ms
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I hate pennies. I *really* hate pennies. What to do with them all?

I really hate pennies. Let me count the reasons:

Here, look at my pile of spare change that I've collected from the last few years:

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Just look at it. Half of that pile is pennies! The pile of pennies is worth what, $5? $10? The pile of nickels and dimes on the other side is probably 7 or 8 times that. I seriously think that if I take that many pennies into a bank to deposit that the security guards will shoot me just on general principle. Can't say I'd blame them.

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