Planet Linux Australia

Syndicate content
Planet Linux Australia -
Updated: 11 min 33 sec ago

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 219: A big bike ride, a swim and a dash of Science Friday

Fri, 2014-09-05 23:25

Zoe had a bit of a sleep in this morning, which wasn't surprising. We had a slow start to the day.

It was a beautiful day, and Zoe was up for a bike ride, so I packed some morning tea and we biked along some bits of the Moreton Bay Cycleway to get underneath the Gateway Bridge, where we stopped for a late morning tea and Zoe had a bit of a run around.

She was very interested in a storm water drain, and when I found the other end of it, we used it for some an impromptu Science Friday physics lesson about how sound traveled, and used it to yell to each other. She thought that was pretty cool.

We ended up grabbing lunch out in a cafe off the bikeway in the middle of the Metroplex office park.

Zoe wanted to go to the pool again after lunch, so we biked home and drove back to Colmslie Pool for a swim. Zoe's so confident in the water now, it's really impressive. We borrowed a kickboard and a pool noodle from the lost property, and that added to the fun.

After that, I dropped into Bunnings to make a donation request on behalf of the Kindergarten, and then grabbed a copy of this month's Practical Parenting, which has a small article on me in it.

I decided to drop Zoe around to Sarah, since we were already out in the car, so after swinging by the Valley to check my post office box, I dropped Zoe off and then headed home. Zoe almost fell asleep on the way to Sarah's. She said she really enjoyed her bike ride today. News: Our first Emperor Sponsor...

Fri, 2014-09-05 20:27

One of the highest priorities of the LCA 2015 team has been to have as much local involvement as possible. Yes, this is but it will be in Auckland! We're really excited about that so couldn't wait another minute to announce our first Emperor Sponsor - Catalyst IT.

We are so thrilled! The team at Catalyst IT has already made a significant contribution to the preparation of our conference and have gone out of their way, giving more than just financial support, to ensure that LCA 2015 is a success. Their overall contribution has been invaluable - and now this!

Catalyst says: " is the jewel in the crown for open source conferences in the Southern Hemisphere. We are delighted to be able to support this event for the Open Source community and the Catalyst team is very much looking forward to starting 2015 by catching up with other technologists and geeks, sharing and learning, and contributing to the growth of free and open source software."

Scheduled to be held at the University of Auckland from the 12th to the 16 January 2015, is widely regarded by delegates as one of the best community run Linux conferences worldwide. Each year open source geeks from across the globe gather in Australia or New Zealand to meet their fellow technologists, share the latest ideas and innovations, and spend a week discussing and collaborating on open source projects. is continuing to seek sponsorship for the event, with several sponsorship levels still available. However, sponsorship seats are filling up fast! If your company is interested in becoming a sponsor, then act quickly and contact

We look forward to a successful LCA 2015, and we thank Catalyst IT for their involvement, enthusiasm and generous support.

Steven Ellis

Co-Chair and Sponsor Liaison

Donna Benjamin: Estimating Story Points

Fri, 2014-09-05 09:26
Friday, September 5, 2014 - 08:23

A couple of days ago I found myself describing how to estimate the size of a story. It was coming out in my own words, without references. It felt... right.

One agile approach for "sizing" up a task is to use a relative scale to describe a mixture of effort, complexity and uncertainty.

1pt - Oh I know what that it is, and exactly how to do it.

2pts - Oh that's about twice as hard as a 1.

4pts - Twice as much effort again.

8pts - Hmmm, there's some tricky bits in there I'm not sure about, but know someone who knows.

16pts - A few unknowns in there. I can't be confident about what's involved.

32pts - Need more information before I can begin to estimate what's involved.

64pts - Epic. No way we could do that in one sprint. We need to break this down into smaller pieces, but we can do that later if it's not a priority.

Swap out unknowns for complexity. If a task is understood but complex, the chance of error is higher, as is the need for greater review and testing. Build that in when estimating. Don't devalue review and quality assurance, they are critical steps to agile success.

It also makes sense to add points to stories known to be simple but incredibly time-intensive. A simple, but tedious and repetitive task introduces risk because the person doing it may get tired, bored or hungry. Tired, bored, hungry human beings don't produce their best work. Again, you will need to factor in additional time for review and testing by someone with fresh eyes, or break that task down into smaller steps.

It's way too easy to get caught up matching Story Points to time, especially when doing quotes or reconciling budgets. Story Points are best for helping a team and their product owner to focus on what can be achieved now, in this sprint. Keeping it real.

What do you think?

Image: Shamelessly "borrowed" from <= also a good post on this topic!

James Morris: New GPG Key

Fri, 2014-09-05 09:26

Just an FYI, I lost my GPG key a few months back during an upgrade, and have created a new one.  This was signed by folk at LinuxCon/KS last month.

The new key ID / fingerprint is: D950053C / 8327 23D0 EF9D D46D 9AC9  C03C AD98 4BBF D950 053C

Please use this key and not the old one!

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 218: Play date, Father's Day at Bunnings

Thu, 2014-09-04 22:25

Zoe slept well last night. I was a bit tired from a late night, so we had a slow start to the day.

Zoe wanted to go around to Megan's place, and I wanted to make some clam chowder with the leftover clams from a paella I made on the weekend, so I asked Jason if he liked clam chowder. After grabbing some ingredients from the Hawthorne Garage, we headed over to Megan's house via the bakery.

Long story short, the clam chowder was pretty watery by New England-style clam chowder standards, and the bread that I got was a far cry from a sourdough bread bowl, so I wasn't very satisfied with the result. It turns out that 800 grams of clams only yields about 100 grams of meat, and the recipe called for 400 grams of clam meat, so it was pretty light on in the clam department.

After we got back from Megan's place, we just bummed around at home doing nothing in particular for a few hours until it was time to go to Zoe's make up swim class for last week's canceled one. We had enough time up our sleeves, so Zoe scootered there. It took about 15 minutes to get there without too much mucking around.

By the time we got back home from swim class it was time to head out to Bunnings for their free family fun night for Father's Day. We had a really good night. They had some reptiles. Zoe got to hold a snake. They had some pirates. Zoe got a tattoo and got to have a sword fight. They had some mini golf. They had a clown that did a funny magic act and was doing balloons all night. They had a free sausage sizzle. It was a really fun night out and Zoe really enjoyed herself.

We got home well past her bedtime, so getting her settled and into bed quickly was a little bit of a challenge, but we got there eventually.

Gabriel Noronha: New Electricity Retailer

Thu, 2014-09-04 20:26

So after crunching some more numbers and reading the green peace green energy guide I decided to change electricity retailers. Based of my need for a high VFIT (see previous post )  it was a choice between AGL (current provider), Click Energy and Diamond Energy.

Power Saving Calculations

Ok so the savings it’s not completely fair on AGL $55 of that $70 saving is 100% green energy which I’m not longer buying.  As click doesn’t offer it on their solar plan. but i can buy green energy from the a environmental trust for 4.2c/kWh and it’s a tax deduction.

Click saved me the most money has no contracts over AGLs 3 year killer and Diamonds 1 year one, it was also rated by green peace as middle range green. I’ve decided to move to click energy I’ll officially switch at my next meter read.

What about Gas well it’s going to switched later when click supports it. from twitter today:

It’s official! We’re pleased to announce Click Energy will be a #naturalgassupplier by the end of the year

— Click Energy (@click4energy) September 4, 2014

If I’ve convinced you to switch and you want to get $50 click has a mates rates referral program  drop me a message and we’ll go from there.

Russell Coker: Inteltech/Clicksend SMS Script

Thu, 2014-09-04 15:26





I’ve just written the below script to send SMS via the service. It takes the above configuration in /etc/sms-pass.cfg where the username is assigned with the clicksend web page and the API key is a long hex string that clicksend provides as a password. The LOG_SERVICE is which syslog service to use for the log messages, on systems that are expected to send many messages I use the service “local1″ and I use “user” for development systems.

I hope this is useful to someone, and if you have any ideas for improvement then please let me know.


# $1 is destination number

# text is on standard input

# standard output gives message ID on success, and 0 is returned

# standard error gives error from server on failure, and 1 is returned

. /etc/sms-pass.cfg


TEXT=`tr "[:space:]" + | cut -c 1-159`

logger -t sms -p $ "sending message to $1"

wget -O $OUTPUT "$USER&key=$API_KEY&to=$1&message=$TEXT" > /dev/null 2> /dev/null

if [ "$?" != "0" ]; then

  echo "Error running wget" >&2

  logger -t sms -p $LOG_SERVICE.err "failed to send message \"$TEXT\" to $1 – wget error"

  exit 1


if ! grep -q ^.errortext.Success $OUTPUT ; then

  cat $OUTPUT >&2

  echo >&2

  ERR=$(grep ^.errortext $OUTPUT | sed -e s/^.errortext.// -e s/..errortext.$//)

  logger -t sms -p $LOG_SERVICE.err "failed to send message \"$TEXT\" to $1 – $ERR"

  rm $OUTPUT

  exit 1


ID=$(grep ^.messageid $OUTPUT | sed -e s/^.messageid.// -e s/..messageid.$//)


logger -t sms -p $ "sent message to $1 with ID $ID"

exit 0

Related posts:

  1. Parsing Daemontools/Multilog dates in Shell Script I run some servers that use the DJB Daemontools to...

Jeremy Kerr: Customising OpenPower firmware

Thu, 2014-09-04 00:26

Now that the OpenPower sources are available, it's possible to build custom firmware images for OpenPower machines. Here's a little guide to show how that's done.

The build process

OpenPower firmware has a number of different components, and some infrastructure to pull it all together. We use buildroot to do most of the heavy lifting, plus a little wrapper, called op-build.

There's a README file, containing build instructions in the op-build git repository, but here's a quick overview:

To build an OpenPower PNOR image from scratch, we'll need a few prerequisites (assuming recent Ubuntu):

sudo apt-get install cscope ctags libz-dev libexpat-dev libc6-dev-i386 \ gcc g++ git bison flex gcc-multilib g++-multilib libxml-simple-perl \ libxml-sax-perl

Then we can grab the op-build repository, along with the git submodules:

git clone --recursive git://

set up our environment and configure using the "palmetto" machine configuration:

. op-build-env op-build palmetto_defconfig

and build:


After a while (there is quite a bit of downloading to do on the first build), the build should complete successfully, and you'll have a PNOR image build in output/images/palmetto.pnor.

If you have an existing op-build tree around (colleagues working on OpenPower perhaps?), you can share or copy the dl/ directory to save on download time.

The op-build command is just a shortcut for a make in the buildroot tree, so the general buildroot documentation applies here too. Just replace "make" with "op-build". For example, we can enable a verbose build with:

op-build V=1 Changing the build configuration

Above, we used a palmetto_defconfig as the base buildroot configuration. This defines overall options for the build; things like:

  • Toolchain details used to build the image
  • Which firmware packages are used
  • Which packages are used in the petitboot bootloader environment
  • Which kernel configuration is used for the petitboot bootloader environment

This configuration can be changed through buildroot's menuconfig UI. To adjust the configuration:

op-build menuconfig

And busybox's configuration interface will be shown:

As an example, let's say we want to add the "file" utility to the petitboot environment. To do this, we can nagivate to that option in the Target Packages section (Target Packages → Shell and Utilities → file), and enable the option:

Then exit (saving changes) and rebuild:


- the resulting image will have the file command present in the petitboot shell environment.

Kernel configuration

There are a few other configuration targets to influence the build process; the most interesting for our case will be the kernel configuration. Since we use petitboot as our bootloader, it requires a Linux kernel for the initial bootloader environment. The set of drivers in this kernel will dictate which devices you'll be able to boot from.

So, if we want to enable booting from a new device, we'll need to include an appropriate driver in the kernel. To adjust the kernel configuration, use the linux-menuconfig target:

op-build linux-menuconfig

- which will show the standard Linux "menuconfig" interface:

From here, you can alter the kernel configuration. Once you're done, save changes and exit. Then, to build the new PNOR image:

op-build Customised packages

If you have a customised version of one of the packages used in the OpenPower build, you can easily tell op-build to use your local package. There are a number of package-specific make variables documented in the buildroot generic package reference, the most interesting ones being the _VERSION and _SITE variables.

For example, let's say we have a custom petitboot tree that we want to use for the build. We've committed our changes in the petitboot tree, and want to build a new PNOR image. For the sake of this example, the git SHA petitboot commit we'd like to build is 2468ace0, and our custom petitboot tree is at /home/jk/devel/petitboot.

To build a new PNOR image with this particular petitboot source, we need to specify a few buildroot make variables:

op-build PETITBOOT_SITE=/home/jk/devel/petitboot \ PETITBOOT_SITE_METHOD=git \ PETITBOOT_VERSION=2468ace0

This is what these variables are doing:

  • PETITBOOT_SITE=/home/jk/devel/petitboot - tells op-build where our custom source tree is. This could be a git URL or a local path.
  • PETITBOOT_SITE_METHOD=git - telsl op-build that PETITBOOT_SITE is a git tree. If we were using a git:// URL for PETITBOOT_SITE, then this variable would be set automatically
  • PETITBOOT_VERSION=2468ace0 - tells op-build which version of petitboot to checkout. This can be any commit reference that git understands.

The same method can be used for any of the other packages used during build. For OpenPower builds, you may also want to use the SKIBOOT_* and LINUX_* variables to include custom skiboot firmware and kernel in the build.

If you'd prefer to test new sources without committing to git, you can use _SITE_METHOD=local. This will copy the source tree (defined by _SITE) to the buildroot tree and use it directly. For example:

op-build SKIBOOT_SITE=/home/jk/devel/skiboot \ SKIBOOT_SITE_METHOD=local

- will build the current (and not-necessarily-committed) sources in /home/jk/devel/skiboot. Note that buildroot has no way to tell if your code has changed with _SITE_METHOD=local. If you re-build with this, it's safer to clean the relevant source tree first:

op-build skiboot-dirclean

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 217: Father's Day at Kindergarten, spring cleaning, and swim class

Thu, 2014-09-04 00:25

I managed to crank out a 10 km run this morning. I was even happy with the pace of it.

I had my chiropractic appointment, and then the cleaners that I'd booked for a deep spring clean of my apartment descended on the place to get to work. Not long after that, it was time to head to Kindergarten for their Father's Day morning tea extravaganza.

Because my baking hadn't turned out to my satisfaction, I had to swing by Brumby's on the way there to get some last minute stuff, which made me about 10 minutes late. I got a phone call from Jason as I was walking in asking how far away I was, because Zoe was worried about where I was.

What ensued was a lovely morning. Zoe dragged me all over the playground, despite me being quite familiar with the Kindergarten, and then we played some group games and had morning tea. Dad arrived just in time for morning tea.

After that, we made pin-on paper neck ties (apparently Father's Day is all about the neck tie) and then it was time to go.

I got back just as the cleaners were finishing up, and used the remaining couple of hours to do some emails and phone calls before biking back to Kindergarten to pick Zoe up.

We had some time to kill before her swim class, so we went to the park near the pool, and Zoe did some more monkey bar practice.

After swim class we biked home, and had a nice dinner.

Lev Lafayette: Stepping Down as President of Linux Users Victoria and 2014 Committee (President and Secretary's) Report 2014

Wed, 2014-09-03 23:28

LUV annual general meetings are typically our smallest meetings of the year. It is a bold and few technically-inspired individuals who wish to sit through the necessary administrivia that keep the organisation alive in a formal sense, and the lack of an advertised speaker does suggest the possibility of ad-hoc pot-luck when it comes the short, technical lightning talks. However, I would like to make a special plea for LUV members to attend this agm. The reason being is that, after four years as president of LUV, I am going to step down from this position.

read more

BlueHackers: Follow up

Wed, 2014-09-03 00:00

I have a mental illness. From consuming weed for those years. I have major depression & anxiety. I also get paranoid about germs/what people think of me/my health. I think sometimes I make things worse for myself. The best thing that has ever happened is meeting my lovely Becci. She definitely has taken my unwell self and made me well. I had long quit the weed. But recovering from heavy usage takes the brain a while. Years in fact. I have been in and out of work. Fired for having a mental illness (CBA) and more recently as in last year my mother doused herself in gasoline and set herself alight. I haven’t walked easy street. But I try to keep my head up and wits about me. I have a family to care for an my grandparents who helped raise me quite a bit. Well a lot.

BlueHackers: A bit about “jlg”

Tue, 2014-09-02 23:37

I’m 29, Male from Sunny Brisbane (sunny at the moment). I was born in Adelaide, SA, Australia in a hospital called Modbury hospital. It’s still there. I have one son. I also have a daughter who by law I am not legally allowed to see as I am not on the birth certificate but I’m 99.99 percent sure I’m her father. Her name for the record is Annabel. I’m unsure of spelling. Our son (mine and Bec’s) is being raised with so much love and care and I only wish the same for my daughter. I should mention I’m no street thug or criminal. I actually have no criminal record. I survive on $500AUD a fortnight currently as of right this moment. Which is not much for a overweight male. I don’t really have any vices per say but I don’t use computers so frequently at my age of 29 I have short sighted vision. I should mention I don’t have diabetes.

My story is a common one I think? Man meets woman (Steve Cullen) my bio dad. Has sex, finds out has baby and does runner. I have to this day never met my bio dad. I have seen a photo when I was younger. He was some bald dude. I don’t think much of  him and I actually don’t speak much of him. My mother was awesome and she still is, albeit after her last suicide attempt. I will get to this later. I should mention I was a heavy smoker of cannabis from 2003 to 2007.  I attended a place called HUMBUG. Ironically it was a friend I made called Daniel who got me into marijuna. He would write code, I’d hack computers. We kind of worked as a team. Because the trust was set by us consuming so much (I will call it weed). I’m not proud of my drug usage but little did I know my Mum was a heavy user of other “drugs”. She was also in the army. For roughly 6 years she taught Army service men and women about english/maths etc. As she was a UniSA educated teacher. I on the other hand am self taught. From a young age I was somewhat unwillingly writing phish attacks but for chat websites. I would call these fake logins via HTML. I did this all roughly during High School. I admit freely that the school network was a joke. That doesn’t mean I abused it. I just made sure I couldn’t use their computers by inputting ASCII characters alt+256 the invisible char into the login screen I was using. It was Novell and it would not log in if you entered this char quickly without teacher looking then you’d get moved say to a girl you liked and flirt with her…. :-o)

For the sake of keeping things realistic and true I was actually very frigid. I dated some real nice girls I just couldn’t even get any courage to do anything more than sitting near them. That obviously changed in my final few years. I have always been anti-authority because I actually had 0 parent supervision for most of my teens. I would sit infront of my IBM Aptiva listening to god awful rap music I won’t mention online. I would sit reading RFCs, reading how to write HTML then thinking outside the box and doing what’s now called XSS (aka cross site scripting). Yahoo was one I did, obviously I have never been the type of guy to go hey here’s my handle and here I am LEA track me down. I prefer doing these things without an identity I always have, always will. I am a free lance individual. Whilst I sympathize with various well known hacktivists. I do not go out of my way to engage them.

I think this is enough for now…I will update soon. It’s 10.37pm I know not that late but all this writing has exhausted me. More later.

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 216: Kindergarten, startup stuff, tennis and baking

Tue, 2014-09-02 22:25

I wanted to do a run this morning, but the flesh was weak, so it didn't happen.

I was a bit late getting away to pick up Zoe from Sarah's place, and the traffic was pretty bad again. I got to Kindergarten a bit later than I'd have liked.

I had a meeting with an accountant to discuss some stuff at 9:30am, which I managed to comfortably make. I even got the 30 minute consult for free, which was pretty awesome. I'm pretty close to shelving this particular startup idea, because I can structure it in a way that I'd like, but I can possibly pivot slightly and still solve the overall problem I'm trying to solve. I have some more research to do before I can make a final decision.

After I got home, I procrastinated for a bit and went and had a cup of tea with my neighbour, before finishing off the assessment for the unit of my real estate course that I've been making slow progress on. It finally went into the mail today, so I'm happy about that.

I drove to Kindergarten to take Zoe to tennis class. After tennis class, she wanted Megan to come back for a play date, and Laura had some errands to run, so that worked out well. I had some baking to do for the Father's Day thing at Kindergarten tomorrow, and Megan was keen to help. Zoe was more interested in playing dress ups. Ultimately all they wanted to do was lick the spatulas anyway.

I made my favourite red velvet cheesecake brownie, and tried milling some whole wheat down into flour. The texture was a bit gritty like cornmeal, but it seemed to turn out okay. I've been having problems with it not setting properly in the middle the last few times I've made it, and this time was no different, so I'll have to try making another batch in the morning.

Anshu dropped in after work, and then Laura got back to pick up Megan just before Sarah arrived to pick up Zoe. An easy afternoon.