Security at the Ubuntu Developer Summit

I’m attending the Ubuntu Developer Summit this week in Budapest, and I wanted to share how to participate in the security track remotely.

You’ll want to look at the schedule of security track sessions, and the icecast streams for the various rooms we’re in.  Each session in the schedule has one or both of:

  • an etherpad for recording discussions
  • a blueprint which is the “working document” for that particular portion of the project

Both have little icons in the schedule.

You may also want to join the IRC channel for the session; there is one per room, with naming scheme #ubuntu-uds-$room_name_without_accents .  There’s also #ubuntu-hardened, for general discussions and continuing to participate in the Ubuntu security community after UDS.  If you’re not a big IRC user or your network blocks it, you may prefer web-IRC, which is available here for freenode.

This stuff of course generalizes for any other topic at UDS; check out the schedule for tracks on other topics.

Customizing GnuCash reporting

Before I start: a huge Thank You to the amazing Cheri703 for holding my hand over VOIP while I got the hang of GnuCash.  I wouldn’t have finished my taxes without her patient support 🙂

I spent a while looking around for how to customize GnuCash reporting for Canadian taxes, and it ended up taking me some time to figure out quite simple things so I figured I’d document it here for the benefit of those searching for this info.

I started off with “A Simple Checkbook” and added a number of accounts for my consulting business, various expenses, etc.  I haven’t gotten into tracking my personal expenses in great detail yet, but I’ll try that for 2011.  Feel free to skip the next part: <grumble type=”Canadian Banking System”> The Canadian banking system is behind the times, so I manually downloaded Quicken-compatible files from my 2 banks.  Kudos to CIBC for allowing me to download a whole year’s transactions in one go.  Boo Hiss to TD for not only making me download things a month at a time, but only keeping credit card records for six months.  My books are a bit complicated as I have a USD account and credit card in addition to my CAD one, and I incorporated last year… all told, I had to type in about 18 months worth of various accounts. Lesson learned for next year!</grumble>

When it came time to output all the info for my accountant, I initially used the “Transaction Report” which I copied and pasted into OpenOffice Calc and tidied up… but there was a lot to tidy up, particularly because it did monthly subtotals, which was really overkill and distracting.

Turns out you can customize the Transaction Report!  While you’re on the Transaction Report tab, there will be a new menu option in your Edit menu – Report Options. I customized the Accounts tab to just show the accounts relevant to my taxes and added a running balance in the Display tab.  In the Sorting tab I checked “Show Full Account Code,” and most importantly (to me) I set the “Secondary Subtotal for Date Key” to “None” to make the cluttery monthly subtotals go away.

Hit apply, copy and paste the whole report into OpenOffice Calc, save as XLS if your accountant hasn’t seen the Free Software light, and presto! Taxes are a go, with GnuCash 🙂

One last tip once things are pasted into OpenOffice – do a find and replace for ^. with & to get rid of all the fussy formatting that makes it impossible to do calculations in OpenOffice, and remove all the useless hyperlinks.

There is lots of additional info on the GnuCash FAQ about other ways of exporting data, but this is the quick and simple way that worked for me.  There’s also an official-ish way to export to OO Calc here but I didn’t find that worked any better than just copying and pasting.

It's the little things…

sticker insurance

My beloved tablet died, so I sent it back to the manufacturer, just under the wire before the warranty expired.

A friend had just returned my old netbook, so I moved my data over to that before sending out the sad tablet.  After blowing a few large dust bunnies out of that machine it was only freezing up about once a day.

Ten days, one trip to California, two hackerspaces, and one keynote later, I had the tablet back.  I was in a bit of a crunch at school so I didn’t have time to re-do the factory Win7 image exactly to my liking.  So I popped the hard drive out of the netbook, replaced the tablet hard drive with the netbook drive, and got back to work.  Everything* worked, everything was copacetic, and I was a happy camper with a full keyboard and pressure-sensitive pen tablet once again.

It turns out being able to swap hard drives and have the machine just work is a pretty important feature for me.  <3, Ubuntu**.

*except for the BIOS only allowing certain PCI-IDs for WiFi cards… but that’s a story for another time.  Manufacturers, please don’t do this.  I’m looking at you, HP, Lenovo, Asus….

**yes, I do know this works just fine in other Linux distros.  And probably the BSDs, too 🙂

Sunsets Aren't Delicious

Over my years of using it, Delicious quietly became one of my favorite things on the whole internet – in many ways because it shaped how I used the web itself, and how I organize my thoughts.

Hearing that it’s going to be shut down made me kinda sad. But so does the prospect of moving to some other monolithic, single-point-of-failure service.

Anyone interested in building a Free Software federated social bookmarking app? I am, and I think we could put something together pretty easily using the developing ecosystem of federated social protocols which projects such as and Diaspora are using.

If one already exists, I’d love to hear about it too… but I couldn’t find it.

I’ve got a final tomorrow but I’ll get a mailing list up and running Saturday – leave a message in the comments, or email and I’ll add you when I do.