Let’s retire the LOPSA Gram monthly email

I think we should retire the LOPSA Gram email, and instead, spend that time putting up items on the LOPSA site.

For example: It’s my understanding that not everyone bothers to be on/read this email list, so there are people who don’t yet know that we have two new board members. And, I wonder how many people on this list, missed/ignored-entirely/skimmed-it and missed the bits near the bottom.

I blogged recently that there’s not much coming out of the LOPSA social channels, because there’s simply not much to push through. Today I was staring at the LOPSA Gram, thinking, “gee, good stuff in here I should push to social…” but there’s no way to squeeze it into social channels because we cannot link to the original sources.

LOPSA social media 9 months in

7c00c01a512810a03f54e6b5d8973c8a_400x400In June 2014 I volunteered to work with the Communications Committee to help pump content into LOPSA’s social channels. Perhaps you’ve noticed a few things appearing? Unfortunately, it’s far more likely that you’ve not noticed much change in LOPSA’s visibility on social media.

LOPSA is @lopsa on Twitter, and is also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Why no change?

The problem is simply a lack of material coming into the big end of the funnel. As such, there’s very little that goes out the “bullhorn” end of the funnel to LOPSA’s social channels.

So what have I been doing?

When I see…
– updates in the LOPSA RSS feeds (lopsa.org, Governance)
– the monthly LOPSA Gram
– or anything LOPSA-specific
…I pour that stuff into the social channels.

What have I NOT been doing? I have not been dumping in general “IT news”, security announcements, etc. Everyone can already get that material from their favorite channels.

How can YOU help?

If you’re a LOPSA Board, or Committee, member, you could be more visible: Please put up some blog posts, (even the smallest 3 sentence missives,) about the last bit of official business you completed. The Board Secretary could also draft a few-sentences summary of each Board meeting to be included in the official minutes; Or just put up a blog post with a summary extolling the virtues of what was accomplished.

If you’re a LOPSA member, please consider sharing some of the posts you see in the social channels. If you believe in LOPSA, you probably think your fellow IT professionals should know about LOPSA. Those few things you decide to share, might lead new members to LOPSA. So, sharing is caring!

If you build it and no one shows up, do something else

There was a discussion on the mailing list about communications, and I chimed in with a “LOPSA sucks at communications”, followed by a little naive rant about how LOPSA should be using social channels. At which point Matt Simmons sniped me with a, “Hey, sounds like you want to help out!”

I had spent the last year or two trying to breath life into a network/sysadmin group in the geographic area near me. I really tried. I was unable to find a single person (in my geo area) who was willing to passionately jump in and help pull the sled in the tractor-pull. I learned a lot while trying (and I mean that in a positive way.) Anyway, I’m ceasing my efforts on a local chapter; I wasn’t spending a lot of time, but I’m going to use the little bit of time I was spending to . . .

Volunteer to help LOPSA!

Turns out that LOPSA has a functioning social media setup based around HootSuite. All that was really needed was another pair of hands to pull the levers and spins the knobs.

Hey, this monkey can do that! ook ook OOK!

…and, maybe there’s something you too can do to help LOPSA? :)

Update Feb 2015: LOPSA social media 9 months in.

Overwhelmingly awesome leads to success

People ask themselves two questions when considering joining a professional organization:

What can the organization do for me?
What does the organization do at large to benefit the profession?

LOPSA will grow if it is overwhelmingly awesome in its answer to either of those questions.

It’s in our nature (as people sure, but especially as pragmatic technology workers), to focus on the first question when we first encounter LOPSA. Unfortunately, it is very hard for a small organization to muster overwhelmingly awesome benefits that attract members.

Instead, LOPSA should do great things which are available to as many people as possible. LOPSA should be so awesome at benefitting the profession at large, that it becomes the de facto professional organization. Then people will join just so they can say, “I support LOPSA!”

LOPSA should make as much as possible of what it does, and provides, free and accessible.

Inspired to mentor

I was at LOPSA East 2014 last weekend.

Were you? No? oh. …sorry you missed it!

On Friday evening, John Boris led a “birds of a feather” (BOF) session (aka “birds of a feather flock together”) on LOPSA’s mentorship program. It’s a new-ish program within LOPSA where they try to pair people based on mutual interests and skill sets. In LOPSA’s own words:

Life-long learning is the key to success, and we all have knowledge and experience to share with others who hope to tread the path we’ve already traveled. The LOPSA Mentorship Coordinators match experienced LOPSA members that wish to be mentors with proteges that wish to learn from them.

We encourage two types of mentorship engagements, the first being a fixed-length project such as building a service like a help desk, monitoring system, storage solution, etc. The second type of engagement, freestyle, is more open ended and can include asking for advice on topics like budgeting, work relationships, career development, presentations, and so on.


I’ve thought about mentoring, but have always felt under-qualified; Really, who am I to be telling people how to do things? But the discussion in the Mentorship BOF opened my eyes to the idea that I could be helpful by simply listening and giving feedback. As a mentor, one isn’t expected to know everything, nor even to strictly guide the protege’s learning.

Hmmm… Listening? THAT would be an excellent thing for me to work on!

I have signed up as a mentor, and LOPSA promptly offered me a selection of a few proteges who are currently seeking mentors.


Hopefully, I’ll have more (and more interesting) things to write about this in the future.

Have you considered mentoring? Why not? :^)


If I were in government right now, I would be leery of starting another big software project. I’d also know that big software projects are going to be necessary as our civilization gets more and more complex. So, if I were in government right now, I’d be thinking about laws to regulate the Software Industry. I’d be thinking about what languages and processes we should force them to use, what auditing should be done, what schooling is necessary, etc. etc. I’d be thinking about passing laws to get this unruly and chaotic industry under some kind of control.

If I were the President right now, I might even be thinking about creating a new Czar or Cabinet position: The Secretary of Software Quality. Someone who could regulate this misbehaving industry upon which so much of our future depends.

Maybe that thought hasn’t occurred to them yet. Maybe. But how many more healthcare.gov debacles will it take before it does?

~ Bob Martin, from Healthcare.gov

Most people I’ve talked to, (who write software or do systems and network administration,) are in the “I have work to do” camp. They’ve no time to think about professionalization, or standardization, of their field. To which I say:

That’s cool; I understand. No worries! The government will eventually get around to ramming standardization and licensing down your throat. I’m sure that will work out well for us.

If you work in these fields, you should be paying attention. If you wok in network and systems administration, you should be paying attention to LOPSA and Usenix/LISA.


Feb 2014: Senate Steps Into the Data Breach Controversy

UDP threeway handshake

udp_handshake_3wayOn 05/07/13 09:15, Michael Tiernan wrote:
>  “What is the UDP three way handshake?” He said he was wondering how many people would catch the question’s trick.

You send three UDP packets in three different directions, then shake the hand of the person next to you.

~ Robert Lanning, from the ‘LOPSA Discuss’ mailing list


Thanks LOPSA: Aside from meeting a lot of great people, I attended 12 hours of really great training; Brain full!