Robin Laurén

Learning in Public

Experiencing New Things

Today i’ve experienced several things, many of them new. Some new in a meaningful way, some mainly trivial. And in a broader scope of things, mostly trivial really.

The day began with the graduation event of the course Elements of Artificial Intelligence. It’s an on line course, giving you enough basics on the subject that you can hold an informed discussion about the topic. It’s free, and it’s good. It’s also created and maintained by Reaktor, the company i work at, and the University of Helsinki. And i thoroughly recommend you take the course if you have any interest in the subject. It took me twelve (or eighteen?) hours to complete, required some reading, some paper and pen level mathematics and some thinking. I guess i could have used some more time on it, and maybe i’ll go and revisit the course when the follow-up course comes. Ninety thousand people have already signed up, and currently maybe a tenth of those have completed it. I really hope more will work the way through!

But anyway – the course graduation event was today. The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, held the commencement speech. Nearly a thousand people were present. Two things came to mind: i don’t think i’ve ever been this close to the President. In fact, i’m not even sure i’ve seen him “live” more than once in passing. But more so, the event was both dignigied and laid back at the same time. There was no security or identity check at the gates – we are, after all, in Finland – and President Niinistö moved with one aide-de-camp and one security guard. I didn’t even notice there was a security guard before they were leaving the building, when i saw a translucent curled wire behind somebody’s ear.

Later, at work, i got myself acquainted with FreeIPA. FreeIPA is like Active Directory for Linux, but without Group Policies (sorry!) and the license fees. It’s a Directory service for keeping your users (and their groups, passwords and some settings), it’s a Certificate Authority and a DNS (Domain Name Server). And probably a few more things. I started out looking at a few videos on FreeIPA (namely this and this) and taking the FreeIPA Workshop where i actually installed a simple FreeIPA environment (albeit with “proper” virtual machines, not Vagrant boxes on my laptop). And i did it on CentOS.

All in all, it was a surprisingly good experience.

I’ve been a Ubuntu/Debian guy for the last ten years or so, leaving the RedHat camp and Mandrake Linux shortly after Ubuntu started happening. It’s been kind of a “religious” (or at least, statementy) thing, and i’ve become at ease with the platform. So stepping into CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) was a bit of a leap for me. And now it actually feels kind of peaceful to have a foot in “both” Linucen1 Debian and RedHat (and yes, i do realise there are more than two but i really don’t have the capacity to get into Tails, Mint, Suse, Arch and Slackware .. and OpenBSD).

I even tried installing the FreeIPA Client on one of my Ubuntu boxes, and it sort of half-worked, maybe because i had some settings off. Maybe i’ll look at this tomorrow.

Finally, i tried doing just one thing. I had a beer, a BrewDog Choco Libre, and nothig else. Usually i tend to social-network it on Untappd but having recently read the words of wisdom

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
- Blaise Pascal

, i decided to give it a try.

The beer was exquisite. Smooth. Coffee and chocolate. The sweet taste of alcohol. And … was there plum, and maybe tobacco there …? And i must log this on Untappd now and damn it is hard not to do anything else at the same time! I guess this is what the mindfulness people and the beginning meditators struggle with, to just keep it to one point at the time.

I decided i’ll allow myself to think and to reflect, not only to experience. I can do this another time. So i thought about work, about stuff that goes into Munki, about FreeIPA, about all the stuff i should do at work … and how i shouldn’t actually work on working on them next time at work, but try to organise my stuff and make sense of it all. And that i should work at working less – in the sense of spending less time at work but still get work done. Seven and a half hours of work should be enough, and really, i have very little of actual life outside work.

One solution would be to actually be at work between 9–17. Show up at nine, not ten (which i kind of like to do, because i get an hour of morning time to read the paper or just laze), and leave at five, not six, seven, or eight. I could try this for a week and see how it goes. I guess it too will be hard.

Expect me to report on it. Or if i don’t, just bug me to report on it. In the name of transparency and accountability.

it’s fun. Also, the plural of octopus is octopi and the plural of ananas is ananae, except you call them pineapples in English.

  1. Linucen is a plural form of Linux, because [return]