Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Using Special pages to assist with wiki cleanup

This is part 2 in a series of articles that can lead to a leaner and meaner wiki for Fedora Project. Part 1 was on "what needs to be done and why".

[ed note: Paul was quick to follow my suggestion in Part 1 and has already moved and categorized many of the older Board Meeting pages. Now to find a new example...]

Start on any Fedora Project wiki page such as https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/
Look at the menus on the left at the "Toolbox" near the bottom.

Click on "Special pages"

Lets begin in the second section which is titled "List of pages"

* All pages - allows you list all pages beginning with a specific string. It defaults to the main space but can also be used to find pages in other namespaces.

Example: Looking at pages that begin with "bug" shows all the BugZappers/Meetings/* files that can be moved to the Meeting namespace. The directory hierarchy style of naming in a carry over from the old wiki system and is not recommended in the current mediawiki environment. So these files should also be renamed to something more like "Bugzappers meeting minutes $date" and placed into a category such as "Bugzappers meetings". Another large example would be pages that start with Extras. Since Extras is from Fedora Core days, I would guess that many of these pages can be archived or renamed.

Warning: All pages will list redirect pages as well as pages with content. For example, listing all pages that start with Docs/Beats also shows many pages. However, follow one of the links and you will find that these pages have already been renamed to Documentation Beats. [Look below the (new) title and above the banner image where is says "redirected from" - the URL will not change (yet)]. This is an example of why it is more useful for members of a team to move their own pages rather than the wiki team trying to keep track of everything.

*Categories - lists all the categories that have pages. Use this list to find an existing category or to get ideas for additional categories. There are less than 500 categories at the moment.

Example: There was already a "Board meetings logs" category and now there is also a "Board meetings" category. Docs Project has categories "Docs Project meetings" and Docs Project meeting logs" and "Docs Project archives" and several others.

Tip: Categories can be placed in other categories. This provides the hierarchy. The above mentioned Docs Project categories are all sub categories to "Docs Project"

Warning: Category names are case sensitive and spelling does count.

The last two options that I find particularly useful to the wiki cleanup project are from the top section titled "Maintenance reports" and are

* Uncategorized pages - pages that are not yet in any category. The wiki team would like to see this page have "no results" Currently there are about 3700 pages here - or more than one third of the "content pages" in the wiki. Since Paul has begun cleaning up the Board pages, BugZappers is the next good example alphabetically.

* Uncategorized categories - categories not yet in other categories. The wiki team would like to see this list trimmed to less than a dozen.

Now that you have found the pages, the next step is to rename them and add categories.

For renaming see Ian's tip of the week entry.

For categories return to my notes on wiki cleanup and its links to policy and help pages.

Next time: more examples of using categories.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A long weekend

My long weekend has started out productive. I spent Saturday morning cleaning the gutters. Cleaning the leaves out of the gutters and cleaning the dirt off the visible part of the gutters. Then I planted some summer annuals in the pots out front. By then I was very warm and hungry. After lunch I cleaned up a pile of old paperwork by sorting, shredding, and recycling. After a quick trip to the store for cream to go with the fresh strawberries, it is now time for a nap.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Will Tar Heels be cheering for Duke?

I am a Red Sox fan. I follow baseball. I am familiar with best 5 of 7 or 3 of 5 series. I am used to watching the wild card race at the end of the season and all the possible combinations of who has to win or who has to loose to get a particular team into the playoffs. I also enjoy going to a local minor league game with a group of friends.

College tournaments can be a little different. The ACC Baseball tournament is this weekend at the local minor league park. There are 8 teams competing. They are divided into 2 pools of 4 teams. Each pool plays a round robin schedule of 3 games in 4 days. The winner of each pool plays in the championship game on the 5th day. Tie breakers are first head to head in the pool and second regular season percentages.

I think this is why sports can be a good subject for teaching math and logic.

FSU clinched a championship spot after its second win in pool A. Pool B is a little more interesting. It will be decided by the last game of the 4 days - beginning at 8pm tonight. That game is between Virginia and Duke.

If Virginia wins, they go to the championship game.
So you would think that UNC fans, who would normally cheer for anyone but Duke, would be for VA. Well maybe not. Especially if UNC wins its game at 4pm.

See VA is 2-0 and if they lose they will be 2-1.
If Duke wins they will be 2-1.
If UNC wins this afternoon they will also be 2-1.

For a three way tie. UNC gets the spot because of regular season wins.

Now if UNC loses this afternoon they will be out and I am sure the Tar Heel fans will return to normal anyone but Duke cheering. Assuming they stay to watch the game at all.

At that point the winner of the 8pm game goes to the championship.
If VA wins they go with a 3-0 record.
If Duke wins, both VA and Duke have 2-1 records and the tie breaker if who won when they play each other.

How is that for learning math and logic? I bet you could even fit in a lesson on flow charts?


Friday, May 22, 2009

The back roads of Valley Forge

Last month I was in King of Prussia. Yes, that is the name of a town. It is in Pennsylvania. I was asked that question when online with the Fedora Docs Project recently. It is best known today for its large mall. It is also in the area of Valley Forge.

When working for this client, I stay at the Valley Forge Convention Center. The hotel does have a fridge and a microwave but I still much prefer the full kitchens of a Residence Inn or Homewood Suites. The full suite hotels also usually have two large windows providing more light and general niceness.

A big plus for the Legal Seafood at the mall. They have always brought wonderful hot rolls to the table unless of course you are ordering from the gluten free menu as I now do. This time however, I was offered some gluten free rolls to try. "We just got them in, please tell me what you think". I think they are very good. He also said they have rolls for sandwiches now as well.

The training center used to be in Conshohocken so I have already been to several of the Whole Foods in the area. The closest one to Valley Forge is in Wayne. It is a small store with not the best selection for a hot bar and dinner but they did have the flourless chocolate cake that I found and liked out in Las Vegas. I knew how to get there from the airport and the highway and I had mapped out a more direct route from the store to the hotel before I left home. That is if you can call windy back roads direct. It seemed that it would be more fun then going all the way back to the highway and around.

Then I ran into a roadblock. Well, really construction and a detour and I came out not quite where I thought I would. Luckily it was near two other roads I recognized from the maps and I made it the rest of the way to the hotel without more than one u-turn and only a few extra miles. So far it is still the fun type of adventure.

So the next night, I took the adventure an other direction and tried going through Valley Forge to get down to the road for the Whole Foods. Another roadblock and detour - they were working on the bridge over the turnpike. There are not many ways across the turnpike. Unfortunately this time I got a little turned around and then ended up off the back roads and on a highway. It took a while to find an exit and get turned back around. That adventure turned into about an hour to get to the store but only about 15 minutes to get back.

One other interesting point on my tour of the back roads of PA was finding Devon. I was driving along the road that has the Whole Foods and I saw the buildings of the Devon horse show and fairgrounds. I didn't realize it was so small. It is packed into this little town and only a few blocks from the Whole Foods. There were signs for trailer parking way away from the complex. I assume they have a shuttle. I know it as one of the big Dressage shows on the East Coast. The show started as a fundraiser for a therapeutic riding center. I think it still is that but it also attracts many top level international competitors.

I am going back to Valley Forge in June. I think I will see if I can find my way to one of the other Whole Foods stores that are further north. I have been to at least one. It was a good bit further away but it was also a much newer and much larger store. I may even make it a challenge to get there without using the highways again. I would also like to do more walking in the Valley Forge historic park.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Road rant

Road rant.

OR Get off my road and out of my rear view

OR If they were thinking what I am seeing.

[Disclaimer: These thought have been going through my head as I drive for the past week or so... They are intended as humor though most are based on not so funny situations I have been in recently.]

The speed limit is 55. That means go 60 on the straight in the passing areas and 40 on the curves.

If I fill your rear view mirror, you will move over. Then I can speed past and slow down on the next bumper.

Ahh - a wide open road, go go go. Wait how fast am I going? Hit the brakes. I think I will sit here next to this other car so no one can pass me.

I am a professional driver with tinted windows and a for hire license plate. I can go 80 in a 65 and zip in and out around slower cars and cut people off and it doesn't matter.

I can drive 70 mph while eating breakfast and talking on my cell phone... as long as it is not raining. When it rains I know to use two hands on the wheel, use lights and wipers, go at least 10 mph below the speed limit, and pump the breaks ever few minutes especially on curves.

Staying close the to car in front of me also helps.

If it is very cold and wet slow down ON bridges as well as through a curve.

When traffic is merging from an on ramp, move over to the left. Even if it means cutting off another car and bringing the speed of that lane down by 10-15 mph.

Don't change lanes unless necessary, even if you are going slow in the fast lane. Other will go around.

When traffic is merging from an on ramp, maintain a constant speed... it does not matter the spacing of the vehicles.


Revisiting wiki search and cleanup - Part 1

The short version:

how can you - a Fedora contributor - assist in making the wiki more useful for everyone?
1. Archive old pages so they do not appear in a default search.
2. Move all meeting minutes and irc logs to the Meeting namespace.
3. Move all user pages to the User namespace

The long version (and the answer to Why me?):

As the release of Fedora 11 approaches a variety of housecleaning occurs. Rawhide becomes the working location for F12. Fedora 9 gets marked as end of life and all the bugs in bugzilla get noted as "wontfix, please open against a newer version if issue persists." The Docs Project will review the Release Notes process, archive old notes, and setup for F12.

This seems like a good time to revisit the state of the wiki and particularly the issue of search is borked. A lot of progress has been made to assist users and contributors with finding information in the wiki. The backend database settings were changed so that 3 letter words - like F11 and git - would be indexed. The fonts teams and feature pages show nice use of categories to track progress. Ambassadors and Marketing have been culling old information and grouping event information. Docs Project and Packaging have also made great strides in categorizing and renaming pages. I probably should not have tried to point out good example as I am sure I have missed others.

Yet when I search for a page recently created I still have to sort through many many extra hits. The newest pages of equal relevance are listed LAST. For my search for the release announcement for F11 my target was hit 7 of 7. Searching "F11 feature" on the other hand finds 127 hits with the default display of 20 hits per page. This makes it harder to find a new page. These 127 hits also include a number of irc logs and meeting minutes.

This doesn't seem useful for active contributors let alone attracting new users.

Changing the sort order to newest first may be an option, and Ian is looking at some other options this summer. Meanwhile: how can you - a Fedora contributor - assist in making the wiki more useful for everyone?

1. Archive old pages so they do not appear in a default search.
2. Move all meeting minutes and irc logs to the Meeting namespace.
3. Move all user pages to the User namespace.

Why this will help:

The default search only searches the "main" space.

If everyone that hosts meetings was to ensure that all the meeting minutes and meeting logs are in the Meeting namespace that would reduce a lot of hits right there. There are about 100 pages of Board/Meetings/$DATE and that is just one team. Also, if all the FC5 and FC6 related pages and other older feature pages and even the older FWN pages were in Archive they also would not be found with a generic "gnome" or "kde" search.

Q: What if you need to find those minutes or those old feature pages?
A: Use the advanced search and add "Meeting" or "Archive" to your search locations. Also the pages can be grouped together in a category that can then be browsed.

Q: I search for various meetings almost everyday. Will I always be using advanced search?
A: That is fine. OR: Log in and modify your account settings so that "Meeting" is part of your default search when you are logged into the wiki.

Q: Doesn't Archive mean delete?
A: No. There is a separate procedure for requesting a page to be deleted. Simply moving a page to Archive is a good way to take it out of the default search but still keep it in existence for legacy SIGs or historical purposes.

Q: Why me?
A: There are plenty of pages to move. It doesn't take long to move 5-10 pages. If 100 contributors each moved 10 pages in the next week that would be a HUGE chunk of cleanup. Start with pages related to a project or team that you work on or if you have been around awhile, start with an old project and look for pages to Archive. If a few team members move the meetings pages they can also clean up any "how to host a meeting" procedures as well.

Next time: Using "Special Pages" to find pages to move, pages to categorize, and categories to use.

Meanwhile, start at my notes on wiki cleanup page.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taking a class

Occasionally there is a silver lining to a slow economy. Within a technical training company it is common to allow instructors to cross train by sitting in other classes offered by the same company for little or no cost. There is usually the expectation that the class is either one that the instructor may eventually teach or at least a related topic that will enhancing the instructors ability to teach the classes they already teach. For the full time trainer it may be a job requirement. For an active contract instructor it is usually more of a courtesy if a seat is available - and with the right to bump the trainer in favor of a last minute paying customer.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to sit in a few classes for the "cost of materials" and many classes for "free". I do not get paid for the days I spend learning instead of teaching. I also pay for my own travel but I have been very lucky to live in such a technology rich area that I can usually find a local offering. Long ago I had many students attending Intro to Linux classes ask "is that like the Cisco IOS?" When I had the option to sit in a CCNA class I took it and refreshed my memory on telecommunications while I learned a little bit about the Cisco IOS. By the way, there are several similar commands between the IOS and Linux and other Unix command line interfaces.

This spring one of my clients suggested that I cross train with the intent to teach some of the AIX curriculum. The first step is to sit in the classes. The admin class is running at the local training center this week and I am sitting in class. There are a lot more differences than I remember. I worked on AIX some in the early 90's. It still looks the same. To be fair, we are running an older TL of AIX5.3 right now so I am trying to reserve judgement until we upgrade to the AIX 6.1 later this week. Linux on the other hand has moved ahead in leaps and bounds. As much as I get frustrated by some of the bloat in some Linux distributions, overall it so much more flexible to configure.

I do not know if I will get far enough to teach this course. There are a couple other courses that go with it to have all the knowledge for any type of certification. I would like to continue the cross training, but even if that does not happen this will help me teach Linux and I already think it is worth the cost to my sponsor. I have a lot more sympathy for my students transitioning from Unix to Linux. Sure find, grep, and man can get anyone there but when you have to remember to add the path to find and work with a grep that doesn't have the --color option it does get a little harder. :)


Sunday, May 17, 2009

What a morning.

It was a dark and stormy night....

No, wait. It was not night.
It was a dark and stormy morning....

A rare morning at that, one where I did not need to be any particular place at any particular time. No planes to catch. No class to teach. No family, doctor, or pet appointments. With the weather report for rain and wind all day and getting colder as the day went on, there was little reason to get out of bed. The only things waiting for me were a pile of laundry and sink full of dirty dishes. And since the cats would definitely prefer I stay in bed, I rolled over and went back to sleep for another hour.

Eventually, however, the stomach growled and I got up and headed to the kitchen. I cleaned the coffee pot, put in a fresh filter, and reached for the coffee. Uh Oh. No coffee. So much for warm coffee, a good book or movie, and not going out in to the wilds of the dark and stormy morning. After some serious consideration of just having tea, I ventured out into the world.

After spending a lot on what seemed like very little, I returned home to unpack the groceries and found I had not bought cream. Coffee - check. Cat food - check. Bananas - check. Milk - check. Dinner for later tonight and something for tomorrow - all good. But no cream. And in case you wondered, no there was not enough left at home for tomorrow mornings coffee.

And so ends my dark and stormy morning.

The afternoon went better. Dad called to say he had to come my direction for an errand and I had him stop and bring me cream. He also helped me hang my bike rack in the basement so I could finally get that up off the floor and out of the way. And now I can curl up with a drink, fresh strawberries, and a good movie.