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The LG Backpage

By Ben Okopnik and Kat Tanaka Okopnik

The past month has been quite the whirlwind adventure - both in the positive and the negative senses of the phrase. For one thing, it's been one continuous roadtrip: Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and back to Boston for a week apiece, living out of a suitcase and amid frantic arrangements in an ever-changing, bewildering galaxy of hotels, flights, and car rentals. In the midst of all that, I've also been dealing with dying computers, dying relatives, living relatives (which can, at times, be a much worse ordeal), new business coming in like gang-busters (not that I should complain), trying to handle current commitments - including publishing LG from the road... and, as always, trying to take a moment to sniff the flowers and listen to the sound of the surf breaking on the rocks. Whatever else happens, a life that doesn't include a quiet moment for appreciation of the beauty around us is not one that I'd want to live.

While in LA, Kat and I managed to attend the Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE) and had the great pleasure of meeting one of the LG regulars, Kapil Hari Paranjape - who took the opportunity to crank out a con report, which we're publishing in this issue. Kat had her own take on the proceedings:

When Orv Beach invited us to the Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE), Ben and I had planned to make a weekend of it.

Boston weather, airplanes, and the resulting winter blahs intervened and we ended up doing SCaLE in one whirlwind day, but we managed to float a new tag line for LG (The Free International Online Linux Monthly), introduce ourselves and exchange contact information with nearly every exhibitor, collect some nifty gimmes (I really like my Google-femme babydoll t-shirt!) and get interviewed by Oscar Toscano of Todo Exito (http://www.todoexito.com).

If you've always wanted to hear what we sound like, you can hear (a badly congested and nearly voiceless) Ben and me in our LG audio debut here: http://www.todoexito.com/podcasts/view/22 .

You can find the other SCaLE interviews (including Krugle, HaikuOS, and Perl Programmers Group LA) at http://www.todoexito.com/s/tags/Linux Expo Scale Conference .

There's also more SCaLE followup (photos and other con reports) at: http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/scale5x/pr.php .

All in all, SCaLE was a lot of fun: a bunch of Linux people doing interesting things and putting the message out to the world. And it seems that the world is listening: even though this was a regional show, the exhibitors included IBM, Sun Microsystems, Dell, Google, Novell, Ticketmaster and many others. If you're in the area, be sure to mark your calendar: SCaLE 6x is coming, and it'll be larger and better than ever!

Those of you who recall my last Backpage may remember my cry for help: since LG is a volunteer-run project, the only thing that sustains it is the effort and the energy contributed by members of this community. Articles, news, PR - both incoming and outgoing, proofreading, technical editing, layout, graphic design, programming, publishing, maintenance, corrections - all of these require people, ones who are either skilled at these jobs or willing to take on the even larger job of learning (and perhaps reinventing) these tasks.

Fortunately for LG, a number of smart, willing, ambitious, and skilled people have responded. To be scrupulously honest, perhaps not all of them are all these things at once, but those who aren't yet experts are trying hard - and it's a pleasure to be a part of an effort in which the participants are all there by their own decision and working toward a common, positive goal. We're always happy to see more volunteers - after all, there is always more work, and more fun, interesting projects - but the current bunch are an amazing group of people, and I'm proud to call myself part of this team.

Interestingly enough, the additional volunteers have not necessarily - and this is NOT a complaint - made my job at LG any easier; perhaps my expectations were somewhat unrealistic. Instead, what appears to have happened is that my job is now different: rather than handling every detail of the actual process, there's now a very large component of dealing with people - something that was present previously, but in much smaller quantities. I've managed to bear up under the change and the surprise, but I'm still somewhat bemused: I had imagined some version of lying back on a beach with a margarita in hand while the busy LG dwarves and elves ran the place and kept everything shining and spotless. [sigh] It bugs me to think that in some parallel world, there's a Ben Okopnik doing exactly that... on the other hand, maybe not. I'd be bored to death within the week. :)

Just to recap: LG still needs authors, programmers, and smart, willing, knowledgeable people - and always will. It's a great way to give something back to your community, and an excellent place to refine your old skills and pick up some new ones. Join us! (I'll be the guy slaving over the hot issue.)
Ben Okopnik

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Ben Okopnik


Ben is the Editor-in-Chief for Linux Gazette and a member of The Answer Gang.

Ben was born in Moscow, Russia in 1962. He became interested in electricity at the tender age of six, promptly demonstrated it by sticking a fork into a socket and starting a fire, and has been falling down technological mineshafts ever since. He has been working with computers since the Elder Days, when they had to be built by soldering parts onto printed circuit boards and programs had to fit into 4k of memory. He would gladly pay good money to any psychologist who can cure him of the recurrent nightmares.

His subsequent experiences include creating software in nearly a dozen languages, network and database maintenance during the approach of a hurricane, and writing articles for publications ranging from sailing magazines to technological journals. After a seven-year Atlantic/Caribbean cruise under sail and passages up and down the East coast of the US, he is currently anchored in St. Augustine, Florida. He works as a technical instructor for Sun Microsystems and a private Open Source consultant/Web developer. His current set of hobbies includes flying, yoga, martial arts, motorcycles, writing, and Roman history; his Palm Pilot is crammed full of alarms, many of which contain exclamation points.

He has been working with Linux since 1997, and credits it with his complete loss of interest in waging nuclear warfare on parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Kat Tanaka Okopnik

Bio picture

Kat likes to tell people she's one of the youngest people to have learned to program using punchcards on a mainframe (back in '83); but the truth is that since then, despite many hours in front of various computer screens, she's a computer user rather than a computer programmer.

When away from the keyboard, her hands have been found full of knitting needles, various pens, henna, red-hot welding tools, upholsterer's shears, and a pneumatic scaler.

Copyright © 2007, Ben Okopnik and Kat Tanaka Okopnik. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 136 of Linux Gazette, March 2007

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