Monthly Archives: March 2011

Ubuntu in VirtualBox on OSX

UbuntuI’ve been wanting a VM to mirror a production front end machine I’ve been working so I can more closely replicate the production setup as well as test configuration options and different software versions. I’ve installed Ubuntu 10.10 on VirtualBox (v4.04 r70112) and wanted to mention a few items for those who might run into similar issues.

Package Updates

The first item is updating ~300 packages immediately after the install which included numerous security updates etc. Trying to perform the update from the Update Manager window resulted in the error “Important security updates requires installation of untrusted packages” and wouldn’t proceed. Turns out the answer is to use System | Applications | Synaptic Package Manager and not the Update Manager which is what appeared by default.
Synaptic Package Manager

Screen Resolution

After installing the default screen resolution on the VM was 800×600 which is just too small considering I have 1920×1200 pixels to work with. For this issue, Google yielded this fix which is to install build-essentials using the Synaptic Package Manager mentioned previously and restart the machine. Next, install the VM Guest Additions:
VM Additions
Then in the VM select Places | Home Folder, click on and click Open Autorun Prompt.
Ubuntu Home Folder
At that point, the monitor was recognized correctly and screen resolution changes were enabled.
Ubuntu Monitor Preferences

Getting the Tornado Facebook demo working

Recently, I downloaded Tornado:

Tornado is an open source version of the scalable, non-blocking web server and tools that power FriendFeed.

Included is a facebook demo that displays your feed though it didn’t work “out-of-the-box” raising the error:

File "modules/post.html", line 26, in _execute
KeyError: 'message'

modules/post.html is a snippet of html used to render each feed item. The snippet looks like this:

<div class="post">
  <div class="picture">
    {% set author_url="" + escape(post["from"]["id"]) %}
    <a href="{{ author_url }}"><img src="//{{ escape(post["from"]["id"]) }}/picture?type=square"/></a>
  <div class="body">
    <a href="{{ author_url }}" class="actor">{{ escape(post["from"]["name"]) }}&lt;/a>
    {% if post["message"] %}
      <span class="message">{{ escape(post["message"]) }}</span>
    {% end %}
    <div class="meta">
      <a href="{{ escape(post["actions"][0]["link"]) }}" class="permalink">{{ locale.format_date(datetime.datetime.strptime(post["created_time"], "%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S+0000")) }}</a>

The curly braces are python code snippets and the line reading if post[“message”] is causing the problem. In python referencing a non-existent dictionary key raises a KeyError exception thus changing the code to use:

{% if “message” in post %}

To debug this problem I simply removed the code referencing post[“message”] and replaced it with str(post) which simply dumped the JSON contents onto the page. From there I could see that not all entries had a message key thus the error.

One more note. Looking at the documentation Tornado uses a library call epoll which at first glance sounds familiar to I/O completion ports on Windows which is something I’m familiar with.

Highlights of the SVUSD March 8th School Board meeting

During the March 8th SVUSD school board meeting there were several key points meeting which I feel need to reach the broader community. A few days after the meeting, knowing they’re captured on tape I email Brenda Spalding, Assistance to the Superintendent, and Dr. Silver asking if the audio could be made available on the web. I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Silver indicated they were working on converting the tape to digital format and the result was posted to the district’s website (see Audio of meeting).

Here are the items I recommend listening to with the start time as indicated:

I’d like to especially thank Brenda Spalding and Dr. Silver for making this recording available.

OFA Stand up for Teachers

I subscribe to the Organizing for America mailing list and just received the following which I thought I’d share:

Organizing for America

Steve —

President Obama said this week that any budget that sacrifices a commitment to education is a budget that sacrifices our future:

“And I will not let it happen.”

Here’s why he’s taking a stand:

The cuts in the House Republican budget to education would be devastating for teachers, students, and families — costing 55,000 jobs, slashing financial aid for 8 million college kids, and dropping hundreds of thousands from Head Start, an early-education program proven to help low-income children graduate high school.

This week, the House passed another short-term extension of the federal budget that will fund the government through early April — between now and then, we need to find common ground.

President Obama is committed to commonsense spending cuts that allow us to live within our means without sacrificing key investments that will help us win the future.

With your support today, we can redouble our campaign for a responsible budget as the deadline nears, with OFA volunteers calling lawmakers and hand-delivering petitions to congressional offices.

Together, we’ll work to make sure that every family, principal, teacher, and student across the country understands that critical funding for education is at stake — and what they can do about it.

Will you donate $75 or more today to support Organizing for America and fight to protect our investments in education?

House Republicans are proposing reckless cuts that would undo our progress on health reform, prevent the EPA from protecting our air and water, and hurt our economy and job creation.

The cuts are particularly bad for education, and when we’re talking about investing in children and schools, we’re talking about investing in our future.

If the House Republican budget cuts are adopted:

— More than 16,000 classrooms would close;

— 55,000 teachers would lose their jobs;

— Nearly 200,000 pre-kindergarten children would lose access to Head Start; and

— More than 8 million college students currently receiving tuition assistance would see their Pell Grants cut.

The budget the President signs must have bipartisan support, but he’s made it clear it also must invest in — not sacrifice — education.

Anything less is irresponsible and not worthy of our children.

Your support today will ensure all Americans understand what’s at stake. We’ll stand together and support the President as he tries once again to reach common ground with Republicans.

But we need your help.

Please donate $75 or more to support Organizing for America today:

Thanks for standing up for teachers, kids, and jobs.


Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America

Scotts Valley Unified School District Communications FAQ


The following questions pertain to the Scotts Valley Unified School District and concerns centered around communication between the District leadership, teachers, the Board of Trustees and parents.

Where can the public get information on district finances?

The school district provides access to financial information in electronic form on their website here and here. Additionally, budget information is also available at the district office where you can review printed copies of the budget.

Can finances be compared to other districts?

Yes. Ed-Data provides extensive tools for comparing school districts.

How can information on bond or parcel measures get out to the public?

Does the public realize that bond and parcel money stays in community?

How can we reach more people, especially those outside the District’s contact list? 

The District maintains an email list that’s largely directed towards parents of students and thus the list does not have broad community wide reach. Perhaps a general mailing list could be created and for more details the District office should be consulted.

Have we considered using Facebook to get wider distribution of content posted on the district website?

Here is one such Facebook group.

Have we considered making short (1 minute) info videos that can be posted on the District website and then uploaded / distributed via Facebook and Youtube?

Yes. While the idea has existed for awhile as of May 31, 2010 no videos have been recorded.

Can we use parking lot banners to advertise for donations?

Yes, this is now being used widely across the district by both SVEF and site specific PTA’s.

Is the information posted on the District website accurate?

Questions regarding the accuracy of the information presented on the district website should be directed to the appropriate personal at the district office. The phone number for the district is (831) 438-1820.


Dr. Susan Silver announces retirement from Scotts Valley Unified School District

Having been asked numerous times why I thought Susan Silver decided to resign I did what I’ve done numerous times over this past year, I reached out to her directly and like in so many other situations she offered a reasoned and timely response. Here is a copy of the email she sent prior to her announcement at the Board meeting which she’s indicated can be shared here:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As swiftly as the grapevine works, you may already have heard this; however, I am writing to let you know that at Tuesday’s board meeting, I announced that I will be retiring at the end of this school year.

Some of you may know that I retired several years ago, and was enticed back into the K-12 system to respond to some interesting challenges. When I came to Scotts Valley Unified, my intent was to stay for three years; I am now well into the sixth year. The board that hired me (Marshall Wolff, Joe Espinola, Chuck Walker, Allison Niday and Sue Roth) set ambitious goals for all of us as a team, designed to form our district into a truly unified K-12 school district where adults worked efficiently and effectively together on behalf of students. There are many of those things that we accomplished—we are a financially solvent district, our test scores have gone up at all sites, intervention strategies are used throughout the system, our percent of students below proficient has moved from over 30% to 25%, the construction defects at the high school are almost entirely resolved, alternative options are now available for our high school students, our certificated staff have time each week within the school day to collaborate on teaching and learning, our technology infrastructure works for both instruction and productivity, the employee turnover at the high school has slowed dramatically…..and these are only a few of the changes that occurred. I feel very good about where we are as a district and am very grateful to all of you who have supported my efforts over the years.

The board will be determining the process for hiring the next superintendent, and will be letting you know as the details become available. In the meantime, we still have work to do together over the next four months.

Best wishes,

My New Project DIY Bosch Dishwasher Repair Model SHX46A05UC

We’ve recently had a problem with our Bosch dishwasher so this is looking for some advice for a DIY repair.

When we starting our dishwasher the other day there was an electrical smoke smell that seemed to be coming from the top right hand corner of the door on where the control panel buttons are located. The power button light no longer turns on and the machine is dead at this point.

Google led me to the need to check the wire nut for the power cord and make sure there wasn’t some sort of short (haven’t done this yet). My next thought is perhaps the control board for the machine which I understand is located in the door near the control panel buttons. Searching on the Bosch website I can see there is a recall for a different model (mine’s not covered) for a problem that sounds exactly like what I’ve experience that related to a faulty control board thus my guess as what the issue is.

I checked locally and the repair is $216 + $109 for the control board if that’s the problem so I want to do a bit of digging myself as that’s an amount I don’t want to part with right now.

The model is SHX46A05UC /30 and the serial number starts FD8604.

Do you have any advice?

[Update: March 13, 2011] After a bit of Googling I found the cause of the problem. When we purchased this dishwasher, much to my surprise it didn’t come with a power cord. The manual specified the proper gauge and after a trip to the hardware store it was up and running. However, the cause of the failure was a wire nut:

burned out wire nut

On another note, one of the places my searching found was where it looked like they had a pretty helpful forum. I created an account, agreeing to the forum Terms & Rules:

Although we offer free repair help, this site is not free to operate! We are supported by your parts purchases. If we help you figure out what’s wrong with your appliance, then help make sure that we’re still gonna be here the next time you need us by purchasing your appliance parts through the parts links that we post. A small percentage of your purchase goes to supporting this website without costing you one penny more for the parts you order.

…and posted a near copy of what I wrote above. Someone from the site replied directing me to a link to purchase a control board for $180.10. Well prior to my web searching my wife had priced the board at a local place and found the cost as quoted above which is why we were looking online. At that point, not wanting to look like some sort of troll I carefully posted a replied asking for verification that the part was $72.10 more than what we’d been quoted and got a rude reply telling me they were saving me from spending over $300 by DIY’ing it implying that I just didn’t get it! After posting a brief follow-up comment the next day my account and the thread had been deleted. So much for “…help you figure out what’s wrong with your appliance” and instead just pushing to sell expensive parts. Interestingly while all this was going on and still thinking the issue was perhaps the control board I’d made a request to who came back with $73.91 for the same part, over $100 cheaper.

After a new wire nut and resetting the dishwasher total cost of repair: $0.17. Though I’m considering a different gauge cord altogether.

[Update: May 18, 2014] Same problem occurred again and the wire nuts replaced above have melted through once again. <sigh>

Bosch wire nut problem

OFSVS Update #5 Scotts Valley School District issues pink slips for 2011-2012 school year

Steve Trefethen just sent supporters the following message:

As you might have been aware tonight the Scotts Valley School Board approved a resolution to reduce or eliminate certain certificated services for SVUSD. The details of the cuts are outlined in an attachment to tonight’s Board Agenda which you can find on page two here. Unfortunately, the PDF prevents copying any of the text so you’ll have to click through for the details. Essentially, the plan outlines approximately 10 positions where fractional cuts indicate a reduction of hours for the positions indicated.

Karen Jelcick gave a very somber review of the budget situation with a detailed breakdown of what cuts might look like with and without the extension of existing taxes currently being considered for a ballot measure in June along with the budget assumptions that were made. Karen broke the cuts down into three categories which I’ve captured here since I was unable to find any link to this hand out.

A recommendation was made for people in the community to reach out to their legislators about these cuts.

If you’re not involved in directly supporting parcel tax effort it’s certainly time to start asking why? If you haven’t reviewed the parcel tax poll results please take a look.

The goal of this mailing list is dissemination of information so please forward it to as many parents as possible. Also please ask your friends and neighbors to sign up for this email list.