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World peace.


Bike Paths, Plans, and metrics, for Englewood, Colorado

Wed, 27 Dec 2017 17:59:18 +0000

I like to bike for my errands and recreation, so I've thought a bit about how to best get around the Englewood area. I've been thinking about what routes are the best using these criteria:

  • Connecting destinations (schools, retail, transit hubs)
  • Crossing major car-oriented streets at safe locations (e.g. crossing Broadway on Dartmouth is easier than on Eastman)
  • Minimized interaction with cars (e.g. biking on Dartmouth is generally better than Hampden)

I was pleasantly surprised today to find some maps and plans from the city of Englewood:

These different documents mention a few metrics and goals worth considering for the future.
From the Walk and Wheel plan:

  • 91 miles of bicycle/ped paths/trails
  • 42.6 miles of on-street bike routes
  • 45 bicycle parking racks (maintained by the city, more are maintained by private organizations)
  • The map of Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) on page B-16 is quite interesting to compare to the current city bike map.
  • Bike commute mode share is 1.55% and pedestrian commute mode share is 2.75%

Other metrics to consider:

  • How many miles of on-street routes are LTS1/2/3/4 on the Mineta Transportation Institute report scale?
  • How many injuries and deaths occur related to transportation (i.e. Vision Zero metrics).
  • Mode-share of walking and wheels
  • WalkScore / TransitScore / BikeScore for reference locations (e.g. 1 address in several parts of the city)
People Involved: 

Where can you get worm castings in Denver?

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 17:47:49 +0000

As a gardener in Denver I've heard of worm castings as a potential soil supplement/fertilizer before. I've been composting with a traditional aerobic/thermophilic system for a while. The research I've done recently is that worm castings or vermicompost is a much better fertilizer than traditional compost: more nitrogen from the inputs stick around to the output the nutrients plants need are more easily consumed by plants there's more of the beneficial fungus and bacteria you need to create high quality soil But...where can you get worm castings in Denver? And what does it really include and how much is it? Worm Castings on Craigslist? Searching craigslist for worm castings, vermicompost or other keywords often finds vendors who might have retail locations, just do delivery, or who will meet you somewhere. The sellers seem to come and go. Big Red Worms is one commercial name that has castings available at $1.50 per pound for small orders or $1.25 per pound for orders over 100 pounds. It seems the marijuana industry is a source of some worm castings, either from grow operations tossing out their growing medium or vendors who focus on that industry. One example from the city of Pueblo is Colorado Weed Company's build your blend can be pure worm castings for $1.10 a pound of worm castings. Rocky Mountain Worm Company The Rocky Mountain Worm Company is located in Colorado Springs. They sell worm castings on High Yield at a price of $6.00 for 1 pound of worm castings. They are very clear that their castings are 100% castings and do not contain other compost material from a bin. You could of course mix their castings with compost to end up with something that resembles the contents and price point of other vendors. A.B.C. Composting Located on the Northwest edge of Denver, A.B.C. composting doesn't sell castings, but they do sell worms and other related products like bins. Root Naturally - Organic Gardening The folks at Root Naturally provide organic gardening products in general, including worm castings. They offer appointment only pickup of some products at their Denver location. 30 pounds of worm castings are $16.50 ($0.55 per pound) or 2000 pounds for $650 ($0.32 per pound). Colorado Worm Man John Anderson is the Colorado Worm Man and was the first person who ever showed me an active worm bin at a fall harvest festival for Grant Family Farms in about 2012. He does not seem to sell worm castings, but Innovative Organics on Morrison Road The folks at Innovative Organics have just a bit of information on their website and I've contacted them to see about getting some worm castings. Dirt Dynasty - Mail Order The pun-filled website of Dirt Dynasty at offers Vermicompost in 20 pound bags for $15 ($0.75 per pound). Blue Collar Worms - Fort Collins A short drive north to Fort Collins will get you some worm castings from Blue Collar Worms who does local pickup only. Know of some other options? Please let me know and I will update this page. Category: GardeningPeople Involved: GregLocation: Denver[...]

Earth Treks Englewood - The Largest Indoor Climbing Gym?

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 18:04:38 +0000

In April of 2017 the old Sports Authority headquarters in Englewood was sold for $15.7 million but at that point it wasn't well known who the purchaser was and who would inhabit the space. It turns out Earth Treks is one of the major inhabitants of the space and they had a big plan for the building. The Earth Treks climbing gym will open an Englewood location. The Earth Treks organization was founded and started on leadership development, non-profit goals, and getting people connected to the outdoors. They have a strong Yoga, fitness, and team building component to their gyms and an onsite child-care offering. This video of the Golden climbing gym provides a sense of what the Englewood location will look like. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">The full site plan includes space for their offices. They plan to move many offices from Golden, Colorado to this Englewood location. The rock climbing facility will be be between 20 and 50 feet tall. At the tallest point they will be raising the roof of the building so they get enough height. The panels for the rock climbing wall are already being engineered and will soon be in construction at which point the walls will be shipped over and installed at the Englewood site. The very large Outdoor Retailer show recently moved from Utah where it has been held for a long time to Denver, which has long wanted it. Earth Treks plans to host a lot of events to draw people from the Outdoor Retailer show into their space here in Englewood. Anticipate daily attendance of about 1,000 people. Their plan is to have over 130 full time employees at the site. The Golden facility employs 72 people. The owner of building is currently doing demo and was supposed to deliver the space August 1st, 2017. It's still not done, but they hope to open in the spring of 2018. They plan to be open from 6:00AM to 11:00PM most days. They used to do marketing by just "making a post on facebook saying today we'll open at 3pm" but they now have a marketing team who is working on a full plan. The biggest draw for them to Englewood was the building and access: Drivers can access the space using Hampden or Santa Fe as major cross streets and parking is planned to be available onsite. *The Englewood lightrail station is 0.6 miles away to the north which is about a 13 minute walk that goes from the station, through the Englewood civic center, south on Inca across the big busy Hampden until Inca curves into Jason street. For bikers from the West side of Santa Fe, the South Platte Recreation trail is a great way for bikers to get to the general area, although the specific site is surprisingly hard to reach due to all the car-oriented structures at Hampden-Santa Fe interchange. For bikers from the East side of Santa Fe the network of bike-paths-on-street are probably the best solution. Category: OutdoorsPeople Involved: KnaddisonsLocation: Englewood[...]

Lightweight Disaster Recovery Simulation: Dungeons and Dragons style

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:51:29 +0000

Disasters happen. When they do, are you ready to handle it with grace? In general people get good at handling events that they experience regularly, but high-risk disasters are managed so they don't happen often. It's not every day that power goes out at the primary data center, but when it does you want to be sure that your auto-fail-over actually works. You want to be sure your backups actually work.However, testing disaster preparedness often takes too much time time and creates little organizational value. The insights and practice gained from the experience may never be put to the test. Given the experience takes so much effort, you may not get an opportunity to explore all of the most likely disaster scenarios. So the question is: what's a light-weight way to simulate disasters that still provides insights while taking less time? At the suggestion of the fine consultants at Applied Trust we decided to run a table top disaster recovery session. Chris Rossi had some suggestions on what to do and I did a bit of researching and experimenting. Planning and setup for tabletop disaster recovery I decided to add a little fun in the event by making it themed around a Dungeons and Dragons style event. To prepare for the event: I created google docs for everyone on the team (1 per person) so I could review their notes after the fact. I came up with 4 scenarios, though we only covered 3 of them in the hour we had allotted for the event. The scenarios went from simple and regularly occuring to more obscure. For each scenario, I wrote down the symptom, cause, and a few bits of evidence to help me keep my story straight. The flow of each scenario was: As the "Disaster Master" I would state a condition like "You get an alert from New Relic saying the number of errors has gone above our alerting threshold" Everyone takes a minute or two and writes notes of everything they can think of to check to understand the problem As the typing subsided, people would start asking me questions. I tried to keep my responses positive where possible, but it was amazing how often the answer was "You searched for X and you found nothing." If I sensed that people were getting frustrated I would give out a clue - I realized that we often just look at a screen of data and see a hint (e.g. uncommon requests coming from a single IP address) which causes us to pick up a whole thread of evidence. I tried to provide that kind of experience, though it was difficult to succeed. I had pre-written phrases from different role-playing games to spice up the answers where appropriate, e.g. "Grepping the log file returned zero bytes of text and 1 orc who stole your food." We would then debrief on each topic for a bit talking about nuances of the questions and answers, discussing which systems people do or don't know well, and making notes for what we want to do better in the future (removing single points of failure, improving documentation, etc.) Benefits of Tabletop Disaster Master scenarios What benefits did we find from this practice? We ran through 3 scenarios in under hour and the whole team got to participate (whether suggesting ideas or hearing thought processes from others) We identified deficiencies in our technology stack, documentation, knowledge, and processes that we've prioritized and addressed. People enjoyed the experience and were all placed in control of each scenario gaining experience that will be valuable if they ever face the issue in real life. One particular area of knowledge sharing that was helpful was how to get in touch with people. We use email, hipchat, and hangouts every day, but in an out-of-hours emergency not everyone was sure where the contact list was to look for phone numbers. Category: TechnologyPeople Involved: GregLocation: Denver[...]

Grepping Jenkins job config files

Thu, 06 Feb 2014 15:30:15 +0000

Once you've gone beyond a trivial number of Jenkins jobs you can get into a situation of not knowing which job does which thing. You might say "I know some job is running a query on a table, but which one?" in that case it can be helpful to search your Jenkins jobs. Managing Jobs by script size We have two strategies for managing Jenkins jobs: put short scripts into the job itself, but move longer jobs into code somewhere else. Most jobs use the "execute shell command" Build Step. I also use and recommend the JobConfigHistory plugin to see how a job has changed over time (or who fixed/broke things). When the number of lines in your "shell script" section of the job gets over a maybe 3 or 4 I think it's time to move things to "real code" that is managed by a revision control system with more power than the JobConfigHistory plugin (i.e. git). So, we tend to put things into one of four places: R scripts, Pentaho jobs, Drush commands or bash scripts. All of the R scripts, drush commands and bash scripts are managed with git. The working checkouts of those directories are updated periodically ( Jenkins jobs :)). So, if I want to grep that external code to see where a particular table is being modified it is very easy to do that. But...what about the one or two line shell scripts that are inside Jenkins jobs? Searching Jenkins Job config files First, you have to know about the Jenkins directory structure. The job configurations are stored in files called config.xml located in the Jenkins home directory (often /var/lib/jenkins/). So, if you have a job named production_deploy then the config file for it is located at /var/lib/jenkins/job/production_deploy/config.xml If you want to grep all the config files to find which one is doing something with the field_revision_field_tags table you can use: cd /var/lib/jenkins/jobs/ grep -Hni field_revision_field_tags */config.xml The H flag to grep tells you the name (including parent directory) of the file, which is handy in this case to know the name of the job. The n flag lets you know the line number the where the string occurs in the file. In case you want to open the config.xml directly with a text editor and go to that line number. The i flag for case insensitive just in case it matters and because usually there are few enough jobs that speed isn't a concern (insensitive searches are slower). Finding overly complex Jenkins jobs Now, let's say you like the idea of keeping jobs simple by moving complex jobs into external code. Here's a bonus command line invocation to find jobs that are getting a bit long: wc -l */config.xml | sort -n | tail The -l flag to the wc command will give the count of lines in each config.xml. Piping it to a numeric sort puts the longest jobs last and tail will show the longest 10 jobs. Investigating those will probably let you know which jobs need review for turning them into some other form of managed code. Category: TechnologyPeople Involved: Greg[...]

Why I Love working at

Thu, 10 Oct 2013 15:48:36 +0000

For the past 1 year, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day I've been working at I love it. I've had a lot of great jobs in my career so far, but this is one that is truly extraordinary. I'm currently pretty enthusiastic about a set of quotes from Jeff Bezos compiled at, so I'm sprinkling some of those through this post. What is doing? Our CEO put it like this in a recent interview he gave: is the world’s first likeable financial company. We make payments fun, fair and fashionable. offers Visa cards and MasterCard cards featuring card art and amazing perks from the best brands in the world, like Star Trek, Elvis or The Walking Dead. And...that's a good description of what we do. But, what do I think we're doing that is exceptional? We're using a ton of open source software and contributing back where we can. That just warms my heart :) We're doing everything with an eye towards scalability. We have a lot of card designs and many more are coming. Some of our designs are big and some are small. We still want to delight the people with a "small" brand because to them that brand is their life. Bezos said "Your margin is my opportunity." and we're following that. We aren't aiming to be the cheapest provider, but we are undercutting a lot of other providers with what we believe is a much better product. That will help us scale and as we scale big we win. It feels great to provide a product that is competitive with other options available to our typical cardholder. Since we're scaling big, we sweat the small stuff. We review contracts to see how we can squeeze pennies or fractions of pennies out of different transactions. Scaling big also means a lot lot lot of fun things. Do you think HTML5 input types with browser side validation make a difference? How about a 30% difference? We took a few days and figured out that yes, they do make a statistically significant difference. Jared Spool likes to say (roughly) "Here's what Amazon has learned, but guess what: you're not amazon." While we don't have the scale of Amazon (yet) we have some nice scale and makes it fun to solve little problems. We're doing our best to have high standards when we hire, which makes it really fun to work. I know I can rely on my teammates to create cool things and to push my skills forward. We follow lean startup principles: propose hypotheses, implementing features as quantifiable tests as simply as possible, learn from those tests and repeat. We can finish tests in days, sometimes. Shipping new features and seeing a measurable improvement is very satisfying. Doing it over and over and over again is fulfilling. Bezos said: "I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important [question] -- because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time." Our fundamental business is providing a set of services that look a lot like branchless banking, using brands that people already love. The rise of branchless banking is not going to change in the next 10 years. When was the last time you really needed to use a branch? With smartphones, service provided digitally, electronic transactions - those are all clearly trends that are going to increase. People are going to continue to love brands: a blank t-shirt is $5 while a concert shirt from your favorite band is $50. How many people love their bank's brand? Very few do...and yet that is the brand you see every time you get your card out or log in to their website. Financial services are not going away any time soon. It's one of the biggest industries on earth. In a time when so many business concepts are based on "creating a market" or unproven technology, it feels good knowing that our business is based around easy to understand long-term trends. We're embracing new technologies, for sure, but the basics of ou[...]

Warning: 100% uptime (or 99.9%) is a marketing trick - don't fall for it

Thu, 03 Oct 2013 16:59:36 +0000

We recently were reviewing proposals from two vendors. One vendor claimed 100% uptime. Another vendor claimed 99.95% uptime. Our SLA to customers is below both of those numbers, but 100% feels better than 99.95% right? So we should go with 100% right?

My experience is that the uptime number in an SLA is purely for marketing purposes. Pure. Marketing. Purposes. If you read 100% and think the service will be online for 100% of the time? Shame on you.

The really important thing is the detail behind the SLA. Here are a few tricks I've seen that make a 99.999% SLA roughly worth nothing.

  • What are the exclusions? Most service providers are hosted somewhere (Amazon? Physical space?) that has it's own uptime guarantee. If that provider goes down is your SLA still in effect? Many SLAs exclude acts of nature like a hurricane that can take down a single provider.
  • What do you get when the number is broken? Some contracts give you a credit. Some give you cash. Some give you a credit that is worth your monthly cost multiplied by the percent of time they were offline. Is that worth much to you?
  • Do you get more if the outage is persistent? If a service dies for an hour that's a problem. If it dies for a day that is horrible. I want to be compensated more if the outage is prolonged.
  • Whose monitoring counts? What kind of monitoring? I've had times where my monitoring (Pingdom) showed a site was offline for hours, but internal monitoring showed it was fine. I got no credits.
  • What counts as "down" - if the service is online but taking 10 times longer than normal to process requests, is that OK? What if the service is online but network connectivity is degraded?
  • How are periods of downtime calculated? An SLA I read only counted a full hour of continuous downtime as real downtime. Many outages are 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I want to be compensated for those as well.
  • How are credits received? Do you have to request them or are they automatically given?
  • Is it cash back or a service remedy? Are credits transferable? Do you pay for the service in advance or in arrears? Having a particularly bad outage might make you switch providers so be sure that you won't end up with a giant service credit right after switching.
People Involved: 

Ways you can give feedback, ranked by usefulness

Fri, 30 Aug 2013 18:02:48 +0000

Below is a ladder of feedback, ranked by usefulness in ascending order:

Levels of useful feedback:

  1. Silence (i.e. not giving feedback)
  2. X is bad.
  3. X is bad because Y
  4. ...instead I suggest Z
  5. ...instead I suggest Z because Q
  6. ...instead I suggest Z because Q. I'm happy to help with that.
  7. ...instead I suggest Z because Q. I've already done some (or all) of the work.

Earning bonus points

Regardless of which level you're on, you can get bonus points by following some simple tips:

  • Bonus points if Y or Q includes references to in-depth research on the topic.
  • Bonus points for delivering the message in the appropriate channel, with a considerate tone, and at the right time.
  • Bonus points if your claims are either accurate or clearly labeled as being subjective

This concept came to me within the context of open source software, but I think it's useful in a lot of contexts.

If you are feeling upset about something, consider giving feedback. If you are giving feedback, consider how far you are willing to move up the ladder of useful feedback.

People Involved: 

New option for funding Drupal contributors: Gittip

Thu, 08 Aug 2013 22:44:55 +0000

OK, so it's not really "new." It's a little over a year old, but the Drupal community on Gittip just recently got over 150 people which is the threshold where Gittip starts displaying members of the community. So, congratulations to the Drupal Community! (and to Gittip). Why is Gittip a useful tool for the Drupal community? I think a lot of people want to give a little support (via money) to the people who work on Drupal but there is a lot of friction in the way of giving money. Does the person use Paypal? What is their PayPal email? What if you only want to give someone $10? The friction of that whole transaction far outweighs the $10 gift. There's also a mismatch in the action: most payment systems like a check or PayPal are used one-time (again, because of the friction) but the benefit from a contribution and the desire to pay back that benefit live on for as long as you have a Drupal site. A lot of these topics are discussed in an old Lullabot Podcast where they point out that if every active user of Views gave Earl a few dollars for their use of he'd have a bit over $2 million. My perspective is that it hasn't been easy enough for people to give that money and the friction is holding them back. Gittip solves a lot of these friction problems and the timing problem by making it easy to do small recurring payments to anyone on github or twitter. One example that Dries requested: let's help AlexPott extend his "unemployment" and let him focus his genius on Drupal 8 core development! What does the evolution of our use of Gittip look like? Among the people who have joined the Drupal community on Gittip: There are 24 people who are giving tips and there are 60 people receiving tips. Of the givers, only 2 are clearly a company (MaxCDN and Of the givers, 4 are anonymous (including a relatively generous giver at $15/week) My predictions for the next weeks and months: The amounts - of givers, amounts given, receivers and amounts received - will all go up and up and up We'll see more and more links to Gittip profiles in people's signatures on and their profile pages - currently there are zero users with a signature that contains a gittip and 10(!) people have it in their user profiles. We'll see it on project pages too, currently the only nodes that have it are FillPDF, CDN and this issue by wim leers. The givers will start to include more and more companies (especially near the top) as Companies realize and get approval for this great idea. Perhaps companies will take a move like Khan Academy and let their employees pick how to distribute some money. Acquia? Lullabot? Phase2? WunderKraut? CapGemini? etc. Get to it, friends. Are you really going to let best you with $11/week? Looking at the dollar amounts on the site you might say that there's nothing life-changing about this. Ashe Dryden gets the most tips in the Drupal community and her take - currently $268 per month - is not nearly enough to sustain her life. On the other hand, PatrickD, the contributor behind and has said that earning $200 per week on gittip would be enough (in addition to his current ad revenue) to let him work on those sites full time. If you use those services or appreciate his work, consider tipping him a small amount each week. Patrick is currently at $32.25 so it's totally conceivable that he would get to $200. You like this idea and are signed what? Well, find some people to give money to, of course. And add a link to your gittip profile to your d.o profile to encourage people to give you money. What if I want to give money but can't find the person If you know their profile on github or twitter then you can find them that way. For example, Rasmus Lerdorf is on twitter as @rasmus so his gittip profile is - there are currently [...]

Setting up OpenSWAN for Site-to-Site VPN - Ubuntu 12.04 and Cisco ASA 5520

Fri, 26 Jul 2013 17:31:02 +0000

I recently had to setup OpenSWAN on Ubuntu to be part of a site-to-site VPN with a Cisco ASA 5520. There are a few resources I used to get me there. It was hard to find these resources so I'm keeping track of them for myself and in the hopes it helps someone else. this amazing page, about the same thing on ec2 vpc man ipsec configuring openswan ipsec server - great advice including some "gotchas" and troubleshooting ideas linuxjournal backgrounder on ipsec and vpns openswan installation and configuration tutorial A nice chart about cidr notation in ip addresses A gist about setting up openswan site-to-site on ec2 A serverfault article about two people doing this behind some routers My requirements were: local ike peer IP address: remote ike peer IP address: remote: also want all addresses in 123.45.0/24 to be addressable Authentication: pre shared key Encryption Scheme IKE Diffie Hellman Group: Group 2 Encryption Algorithm: AES-256 Hashing Algorithm: SHA1 IKE Negotiation Mode: Main mode Lifetime (for renegotation): 480 minutes Phase 2 Encapsulation: ESP Phase 2 Encryption Algirithm: AES-256 Phase 2 Hashing Algorithm: SHA1 Perfect Forward Secrecy: No PFS Lifetime (for renegotiation): 480m And here is roughly what my /etc/ipsec.d/connection.conf looks like: conn i2c authby=secret type=transport #might be tunnel keyexchange=ike ikelifetime=480m keylife=60m ike=aes256-sha1;modp1024! phase2=esp phase2alg=aes256-sha1;modp1024 pfs=no auto=start aggrmode=no left= leftsubnet= leftnexthop=%defaultroute right= rightsubnet= We had a few situations where the VPN connection would die. Our website would make calls over it and get timeouts, I would try to ping or telnet across it and those would timeout. The first two times that happened I called our partner and asked if there was any problem - assuming their server was down. In fact there server was up and restarting ipsec fixed the issue. I tried looking in various log files (as suggested by the article) but didn't find any "smoking gun" of what would cause the hiccup. So...we started a jenkins job that pings an IP on the far side of the VPN connection. If the ping fails then the jenkins job restarts ipsec. Here's that script. Yes, it gives jenkins sudo on restarting that service. I'm not sure of a better way to do that automatically, but would love to hear them! !/bin/bash Exit immediately on uninitialized variable or error, and print each command. set -uex if ping loses any packets LINES=ping -w 4 -c 1 | grep ", 0% packet loss," | wc -l if [ $LINES -ne 1 ]; then # run the ping through awk to hide the nonzero exit code so we definitely get to restart ipsec. echo "let's see the ping data" ping -w 4 -c 1 | awk '{print $0}' # now restart ipsec echo "RESTARTING IPSEC" sudo service ipsec restart # this tells jenkins it's a fail so jenkins mails us exit 1 else ping -w 4 -c 1 | grep "^64 bytes from" | awk '{print d, $0}' "d=$(date)" >> timer_combined.txt fi One thing I decided to do with this script is to log the data to a file timer_combined.txt so that we can some-day look at whether the vpn connection ever slows down or something. I set this up 2 months ago and we still haven't looked at that data :) Category: TechnologyPeople Involved: Greg[...]