IRC log of #schooltool for Friday, 2004-08-20

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bskahanThis is Tom and Brian here.16:57
th1aGood morning.16:57
th1aLet's see... my browser is acting weirdly.  One sec...16:58
bskahanno problem, our internet access is a little spotty right now.16:59
th1aHave I pointed out the page at
th1aThat outlines what we'll be doing in the most detail.16:59
bskahanyeah, 16:59
bskahanmentioned in the last email17:00
bskahanas I read it, milestone 7/8 will be a web interface to replace the current client17:01
th1aBut only focusing on calendaring.17:01
bskahanhave you ever seen "Easy Grade Pro"?17:01
th1aThe focus will be on the web interface, though.17:01
bskahancommercial gradebook application17:02
th1aI haven't worked extensively with any particular grading software.17:02
th1aI did a lot of work with standards-based assessment of projects.17:02
th1aBut not grading, because our school doesn't use grades.17:02
bskahanjust wondering, I spent some time with it this weekend, it has quite a few nice features, but could be alot better17:02
th1aIt is an odd problem, because teachers often grade using weird systems.17:03
bskahanyeah, it ends up being very complex to set up17:03
th1aHow many points is a check mark worth, etc.17:04
bskahana lot of up front work in the first week (when teachers have full plates allready)17:04
bskahanhaving it integrated into the scheduling app would reduce alot of that17:04
th1aYeah.  17:04
th1aAlso, we17:04
th1awill only have to fill the needs of one school by April.17:05
*bskahan nods17:05
th1aHopefully they are semi-rational about their grading.17:05
th1aI don't want to try to create the definitive gradebook on the first pass.17:06
bskahanok, that's not till M9 or so anyway, right?17:06
th1aGradebook won't happen until early 2005, I'd guess.17:07
th1aApril is the deadlline for the HTH stuff.17:07
th1aSo Etria is the two of you, right?17:08
th1aYou don't have any other developers.17:09
bskahanyes, 2 full time developers, we have some sales staff and consultants17:09
th1aWe're trying to figure out our time estimates, which are possibly overly optimistic at this point.  17:10
th1aI have to get SteveA and/or the POV guys to have a look at them.17:10
th1aBut regardless, it is going to be pretty steady work from late September-ish  through April.17:11
bskahanwe'd like to talk to steveA about the server architecture at some point in the near future17:11
th1aI can perhaps answer some questions.17:12
bskahanwhat sort of proposal do you need from us?  Timeline, specification based on 17:12
th1aThat's a good question.  Well, at this point I'm thinking of this more like I'm hiring staff, although we're not literally doing that.17:14
th1aI'm trying to find the best team and assuming that we'll work out some of the details as we go.17:14
bskahanOk, some background on Tom & I, (resumes in 3 lines or less)17:15
bskahanMy educational background is in Urban development, (Econ & Poli Sci with CS minor), my work experience before Etria is in the nonprofit sector, systems administration, database design.  17:18
bskahanI've taught Science, American government and Leadership development at the highschool level as a long term sub.17:19
th1aIn Baltimore public schools?17:19
th1aThat's good.17:20
bskahanTom's edu background is in Comp Sci, work experience is in the corporate sector, developing intranet's for GE subsidiaries17:20
bskahanhe's the primary (95%) author of Etria's Public Action Center17:21
th1aHow's that coming?17:21
bskahanits launched17:21
bskahanone sec17:22
bskahanlooking for the url of an active action17:22
th1aIs this Archetypes based?17:24
th1aI need to download some of your code.17:24
bskahanYes, its AT based.17:25
bskahanYou can browse our source repository at , and releases are available via
th1aWhat is Athens?17:26
bskahanThe GPL'd PAM code is currently at RC1 because we need to break out some Public Knowledge specific details in the code.17:27
bskahanAthens is the soon-to-be new name for the PAM17:27
th1aSo it uses a relational database?17:28
bskahanRight now the PAM relies on the ProjectVoteSmart product which can only be used with explicit permission from Project Vote Smart.  The final release will drop that dependancy.17:28
bskahanyes, the primary database (MySQL) was supplied by Project Vote Smart. 17:29
bskahanThis was one of the primary reasons for creating the Open Government Project, so we can create those databases in a way that anyone can use them in a GPL'd project.17:29
bskahanProject Vote Smart is a great organization but they have internal requirements for that the database be used only in a non-partisan way, which restricts its usefulness when it comes to candidates and partisan grassroots organizations.17:31
th1aI need to try out Quills.17:31
th1aSo what's your schedule for the next few months?17:32
bskahanWe will be making a much improved Quills release very soon.17:32
bskahanWe are committed until mid-September, after that we have ongoing contract commitments that take up less than 15% of our time.17:33
th1aThat's about right for us.17:34
th1aSo it looks like I'm going to be in Pittsburgh/Morgantown next week instead of Central Pa, so I won't be as close to Baltimore as I thought.17:35
bskahanwhen next week?17:36
th1aAll next week.17:36
bskahando you know how long the drive is from Baltimore to Pittsburg?17:37
th1aThe drive from Baltimore to Pittsburgh is, I think, long enough that it would be easier for me to fly down on Southwest from Providence some time soon.17:38
bskahanok, 17:38
th1aSo would you guys be able to bring another person or two on board in the spring if things were running behind --  that is, we'd be paying for extra people, but do you know other Python developers who could work with you?17:40
bskahanyes, we've used subcontractors in the past, and know quite a few good ones17:40
th1aThat's good.17:41
bskahanwe also have a part time consultant who helps us with school related projects17:41
bskahanshe's the retired technology director for Baltimore City COllege17:41
th1aWell, I guess there's not a hell of a lot more we can do right now.  17:42
th1aNext steps:17:42
bskahanshe's was an English teacher for 20 years before becoming the technology director by default, and is very good at keeping us focused on teachers17:42
*bskahan nods17:42
th1aI'll send Steve an email about chatting w/you.17:42
th1aIt might be a little while before that happens.17:43
th1aI'll poke around your code more...17:43
th1aJeez, we're almost through August, aren't we?17:44
th1aThere's going to be a lull at POV through most of September.17:44
bskahanyes, pretty much into the school year17:44
th1aThey've got some other work they're committed to, due to the leadership vacuum at SchoolTool before I came on.17:45
th1aSo there isn't much point in trying to get the second team going before then.17:45
th1aBut I guess we really need to make a decision in about two weeks.17:45
th1aGood to focus on actual dates...17:46
bskahanOk, that would be good for us17:46
th1aSo really, we should pick a date to meet in Baltimore.17:46
th1aYou are really interested in this, right?17:47
bskahanWe're going to be under time pressure from September 5-10, outside of that we're pretty flexible17:47
th1aPerhaps the 3rd?  Let me look at flights.17:48
bskahanYes, we're interested, we'd like to make schooltool our primary project for the next 6 months.17:49
bskahanWe've been discussing a zope based school intranet project for some time now17:49
bskahanfrom a slightly different angle - primarily, integrating with terminal server labs - but its something that could be done with schooltool in the future17:50
th1aYeah.  What distro are you using for the terminal server labs?17:51
bskahanthe 3rd would work for us.17:51
bskahanfedora based17:51
th1aYeah.  Did you look at SkoleLinux or debian-edu?17:51
bskahanwe've been active in the UserLinux discussions because fedora hasn't cut it17:51
th1aWhat is UserLinux?17:52
bskahana debian based commercial disto still in the planning phases17:52
bskahanso far, it hasn't born much fruit17:52
bskahanwe're hoping to look a warty next17:53
bskahanI've been working on LTSP debian packages for the last few weeks since there's no maintainer currently17:53
th1aAre you a Debian maintainer?17:53
bskahanno, I have enough on my plate17:54
bskahanbut I'd like to get LTSP debs back up and running17:54
th1aI may end up having to do that.17:54
th1aHm... Have you looked at SkoleLinux?17:54
bskahanno, I hadn't even heard of it17:54
th1aI think they have Debian based terminal servers going.17:55
th1aIt is Norwegian.17:55
bskahanI'll take a look at it17:55
bskahanthat's pretty exciting, one of the big selling points for the LTSP labs is the ease of maintenance, and Debian is better than Fedora in that department17:56
th1aAlthough Fedora is a nicer desktop out of the box, imho.17:56
bskahanFedora is nice, but I'm hesitant to rely on it too heavily until they've worked out how the community involvement is going to work17:57
th1aOK, so I'm going to book a flight on the 3rd...17:57
bskahanjust give us the flight information and we'll meet you at BWI17:58
th1aCan we skew this later in the day?18:01
bskahanyes, 18:02
th1aI could arrive at 2:05 and leave at 9:10.18:02
th1aI'll be awake that way.18:02
bskahanthat's no problem18:02
th1aOK, let's do that.18:03
bskahangreat, sounds good.  You have our telephone contact info if anything comes up18:03
th1aOK.  Sounds like a plan.18:04
bskahansee you on the 3rd18:05
bskahananything else for today?18:07
th1aNope.  We're done here.18:08
bskahanYou too, 18:08
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