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Wolverine Thanksgiving

Hey kids! It’s time for the 5th annual Eyler-Werve Practice Thanksgiving!

The Practice Thanksgiving concept is pretty simple: Thanksgiving is awesome. Double Thanksgiving is twice as awesome. It’s math. So, per the secret rules of the hardcore Thanksgiving underground, we do a potluck Practice Thanksgiving with our friends. That’s you.

We are co-hosting with Ariel Diamond, a fabulous butcher and baker and food writer. This has implications for dinner.

We’ll do a fresh local bird, lovingly brined and stuffed full of sage and parsley and goodness. You lot will pitch in with the full flower of your creativity on the sides, drinks and desserts. Experimentation is encouraged. Keep it simple and portion to share.

Your friends, family and kids are welcome to join us. Last year we had a zillion kiddos bouncing around and it was pretty rad.

Schedule: Sunday, 11/10/2013. 3:00pm.

Gather at 3pm. Food starts at 4pm sharp. Note new schedule: Less milling about, more eating. Last year we topped out at 50 people, which means some people didn’t get bread, so for heaven’s sake get here on time!

RSVP: Leave a comment on this post. Please note any food restrictions, or send an email if you prefer.

With thanks for many good things,

Jonathan, Kate, Vivian and Ariel

Menu

Bringing food is optional but encouraged. Volunteer to bring something specific by leaving a comment below this post, and we’ll update the list — we do it this way so you can see what’s claimed and we don’t get 12 yam recipes. Some recommendations are in italics, but feel free to improvise. If you can make something vegetarian, please do.

Party tally looks to be ~18 people. Keep it simple and portion to share.

Main Course!

  • Sage-brined Turkey by Jonathan Eyler-Werve
  • A veggie main by Heidi

Sides!

  • Bread by Ariel Diamond
  • Salad stuff by Janet E
  • So much meaty stuffing by Lindsay A
  • stuffing without the meats by Amy S
  • sweet potatoes by Broc H
  • Can shaped yams and/or squash by Nell and Daniel
  • Mac’n’cheese’n’bacon by Sarah and Mark
  • mashed potatoes
  • Vegitables (some with bacon) by Targol
  • cranberries shaped like the can they were made in

Dessert!

  • Apple pie by Kate Eyler-Werve
  • TBD dessert by Jill and Kristin
  • Pumpkin Cranberry bars by Maria
  • Peanut butter cookies by Kiari
  • moar pie

Beverages!

  • Pabst!
  • Bottle o’wine by Jill and Kristin
  • Bottle o wine by Kiari
  • But more booze and non-booze options are a good, good thing.

 

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Sprout

The Chicago Tribune‘s Walin Wong describes Dev Bootcamp thusly:

Dev Bootcamp, begun in San Francisco in February [2012], offers nine weeks of full-time, intensive training in professional Web development. Students do not need prior experience in software development; the program’s goal is for graduates to have enough knowledge to join a company as an entry-level developer. Dev Bootcamp organizes hiring days where technology companies interview students. The company said it has placed 95 percent of its San Francisco graduates with average starting annual salaries of more than $85,000.

There are many things I like about this school, which I’ll share in time. For now, sufficient to say I am very excited to join the team, starting tomorrow.

– Jonathan Eyler-Werve
– Image: Sam Catchesides (Creative Commons by/sa)

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pork
pork2

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cernAt the moment WordPress sites worldwide are under attack by a botnet that is attempting to guess admin passwords. If you admin a WordPress site, please update your password to something over 20 characters and install the Limit Login Attempts and Better WordPress Security plugins.

But this isn’t a WordPress issue. It’s an Internet issue, one that can be defeated by some simple password practices. The attack is a brute force attack trying common passwords, most of which are dictionary terms of 8 characters or less.

So don’t use short passwords.

The best way I’ve come up with to not use short passwords is to stop memorizing passwords.

Instead, use an encrypted password vault with a single master passphrase. My favorite for this is passpack.com.

Passpack is ideal for small teams because it allows secure sharing across teams at the per-password level. So an Adwords account gets shared with the group Marketing, and three other people now have access to only that password. Access can be revoked later (although you’ll want to change the password regardless). Small teams are free forever, bigger teams are totally reasonable (you can admin 15 users for $4 a month).

Once you have that in place, you are now copy/pasting blind chunks of text, which means you can use the “Suggest Password” tool to generate 30 digit random strings, which are effectively unguessable without direct access to the hardware.

Now you only remember one sentence-length passphrase (such as song lyrics + your childhood phone number) and everything else gets a very complex, never reused password. It’s more secure, and it’s also a lot easier than actually remembering all your passwords.

Image: Server room at CERN by Torkild Retvedt (CC by/sa)

BBQ Junkie / Luis Ramirez CC-by-nc

We’ve been cooking a bunch of pork ribs.

If you’ve never made ribs at home, it’s shockingly easy and always a crowd pleaser. The basic setup is: toss some sauce on it, wrap ribs in foil, put them in the oven. That’s really it. There’s a lot of mythology around this food, and it tends to obscure an important truth: BBQ is folk culture, and the thing about folk culture is that damn near anyone can do it. Pork ribs got popular with Southerners because they were cheap, not because they were tricky. If you need a secret ingredient or expensive gear, it ain’t my kind of bar-B-que.

Also, ribs are delicious.

Everything I know about ribs follows. Suggestions always welcome.

Preparation

Pork, sauce, foil, done.

  • Buy good pork – pork loin back ribs. Bonus points if you know anything about how the pigs were treated. If you don’t know, it’s probably not good.
  • One rack serves 2 or 3 people.
  • Wash the thawed ribs. There may be a membrane on the back of the ribs – take that off.
  • Place ribs on a big sheet of heavy aluminum foil, meat side down (shiny side in or out – it matters not).
  • Sauce em! I do a dry spice mix first, then put wet sauce on later, but approaches vary. Do both sides, and spread wet sauces evenly with a brush – avoid clumps. A dry spice rub is below, but the important thing is a decent amount of salt, some chili powder, and whatever else you feel like.
  • Wrap the ribs shut and put em in the fridge for 1 to 24 hours.

Sauces and Spices

A few words about BBQ sauce.

I grew up with Gridley’s, Corky’s and Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous as the holy trinity of Memphis BBQ, with Corky’s eventually rising to world domination, in large part due to their willingness to FedEx a rack of ribs anywhere in the world. So I assumed Corky’s sauce was the best there is. It’s not. In fact, it’s maybe not even that good. Check the ingredient list on any BBQ sauce. If the first ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup, throw it out. Better sauces are light on sweeteners, and when they are sweetened, they use real sugar or molasses. Stubbs is nice. John Vergo of the Rendezvous says: “People are so obsessed with the sauce, they might as well put it on a piece of bread.”

I like dry spice mixes a lot, and the foil wrapped approach I use means the ribs are plenty moist without any sauce poured on. You can see an unofficial Rendezvous spice recipe here, or buy 4 bottles of their mix for a mere $30 online. It’s good stuff. My house mix below.

  • 3 parts Kosher salt
  • 2 parts packed brown sugar
  • 2 parts black pepper
  • 1 part paprika
  • 1 part ancho chili (you can use any mild chili powder, but ancho is nice and smokey)
  • 1 part crushed red peppers (optional heat, and it looks lovely)
  • 1/4 part mustard seed powder
  • 1/4 part garlic powder
  • Applesauce (spooned on over the spice rub)

You want to shake out a good even coat on the ribs, top and bottom. You’ll put more on later, and you don’t want to overdo it – you have to be mindful of over salting. Getting the salt right is key, particularly if you’re using premixed “rib rub” – eat some and guess at the salt level. You can pour wet sauce on at any point, or none at all.

ribs

Cooking

Slow and low.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 *F. 
  • Put some more sauce on the ribs, then seal them tightly in the foil. You want a moisture barrier.
  • Put the ribs on the oven rack and immediately turn the heat down to 250* F. The 400* preheat is to get the cold ribs up to temp quickly, then hold them there.
  • Cook for four hours at 250* F. Less time, use more heat, up to about 300* F.
  • As they cook, pull em and peek occasionally. You can top off your sauces. You have options: for fall-off-the-bone ribs, you want them braising in the juices, so seal the foil again. For a crispier rib, after you are halfway through, you can poke a hole in the foil and let the juices drain out.
  • As they near completion, pull a rib off and eat it. If it’s tough, they need more time. You can turn the oven off and hold them here if you need to.
  • Finishing: Discard the foil and transfer the ribs to a broiler pan. Flip them meat side up. Sauce them. Broil them for 20 minutes until browned and slightly crispy, more or less to taste. Or, grill em up.
  • Let em rest for a bit, then serve em with the sauce of your choice, baked beans and some greens.

Thanks to Ariel Diamond at GuideToMeat.com for teaching me how to do this.

Images: Top photo is by BBQ Junkie / Luis Ramirez ( CC-by-nc ), bottom photo is by me  (CC-by).

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justin-kern-cc-byncsa

I recently ran across a number of status updates decrying the lack of privacy on Facebook, and imploring friends to take action to improve matters. Facebook, in a way we have grown very familiar with, makes this comically difficult:

PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “COMMENTS & LIKE” and also “PHOTOS”. By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer become public.

Right.

I very much appreciate the interest in having control over the things that you create. I recently worked with the engine room an organization that, among other work, provides advice to online activists in repressive locations. I have followed online privacy (or lack thereof) with some attention.

I am sad to report that no amount of hovering, tweaking, or clicking will change the basic dynamics of Facebook. They control the material you submit, and they display that to sell ads. The more content they sell (ie, you), the more money they make, and they are under intense pressure to make money: their stock is doing terribly. You are not the user. You are the product.

My suggestion for privacy on Facebook is simple: there is none. It is not a feature this service offers. My advice: Set everything to “public” and then decide if you want to keep using it.

However, the more private alternatives are really easy! The first step is collecting email addresses of your friends. Get a list! Update it occasionally. The second is sending email. Email photos, quips, links. We have all the technology. No companies, no settings, no database breaches, just people sharing stuff.

If you want help taking control of your media stream, I am ALWAYS happy to chat about these issues. I’m at jonathan@eylerwerve.com. :)

– Jonathan Eyler-Werve

– Images by the very talented Justin Kern of the Windy Pixel. CC by/nc/sa.

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We have a lot to be grateful for, and we’d like to share that.

The Practice Thanksgiving concept is pretty simple: Thanksgiving is awesome. Double Thanksgiving is twice as awesome. It’s math. So, per the secret rules of the hardcore Thanksgiving underground, we do a Practice Thanksgiving with our friends. That’s you.

This year, Kate and Jonathan are happy to co-host with Ariel Diamond, a fabulous butcher and baker and food writer. This has implications for dinner.

We’ll do a fresh local bird, lovingly brined and stuffed full of sage and parsley and goodness. You lot will pitch in with the full flower of your creativity on the sides, drinks and desserts. Experimentation is encouraged. Keep it simple and portion to share.

Your friends, family and kids are welcome to join us.

Schedule: Sunday, 11/4/2012. 3:00pm (remember to Fall Back).

Gather at 3pm. Food starts at 4pm sharp. Note new schedule: Less milling about, more eating.

RSVP: Leave a comment on this post. Please note any food restrictions, or send an email if you prefer.

With thanks for many good things,

Jonathan, Kate, Vivian and Ariel

The menu:

Bringing food is optional but encouraged. Volunteer to bring something specific by leaving a comment below this post, and I’ll update the list — we do it this way so you can see what’s claimed and we don’t get 12 yam recipes. Some recommendations are in italics, but feel free to improvize. If you can make something vegetarian, please do.

Main course!
Sage-brined turkey with garlic and parsley, with gravy. By Jonathan E-W.
Quinoa with Swiss Chard and sweet potatoes! by Clare.
Possible Butternut Squash by Tony and Dorothy.

Sides! 
Garlic Mashed Potatoes, by Jonathan E-W.
Sweet potatoes by Emma and Eric.

Meaty stuffing for all! says Lindsay.
Wanted: A vegetarian stuffing.

Bread, by Ariel.

A big leafy salad, by Kathy and Martin.
Spouts and bacon (maybe?) by Clare.
Sprouts and dates by Troy and family.
Green beans by Jung.
Wanted: Simple, good vegetables.
Wanted: Kid friendly veggie snacks.

Cranberries by Heidi.

Deserts! 
Apple pie, by Kate E-W.
Pecan Pie by Heidi.
Unspecified Pie, by David and Bec.
Unspecified Pie, by Tommy T.
Ginger Butter Cake, by Troy and family.

Drinks!

Pabst Blue Ribbon, by Jonathan E-W.
Seasonal beverages of an alcoholic nature.
Seasonal beverages of a non-alcoholic nature.

Headcount: 48.

Photo Credit: Larimdame. CC by sa nc

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Governments worldwide are starting to change the way they catch and release data. The giant file cabinets are still there, of course, but when the head of government starts pushing open data the wheels start to turn. The shift away from file cabinets towards open data driving government is essentially a change management issue. But most open government conversations don’t approach the problem as an institutional development or change management problem. Instead, we hear about “apps” and “transparency” and “participation”, all of which have definitional baggage.

Fortunately, lots of smart people have studied how organizations change, which means open government data proponents have a wealth of change management research to build a new change model on. I’m taking a crack at it here.

In this post, I’m proposing a change model based on the Dunphy Sustainability Scale, a tool for understanding how organizations adopt sustainability values. The environmental and social sustainability movement is a particularly good starting point for us because it has many parallels to open government:

  • Most organizations class both sustainability and open data practices as “nice to have,” not “core to the business.”
  • Both sustainability and open data can be transformational; they can create an entirely new frame to consider what an organization can achieve and how it operates.
  • There aren’t many organizations that have managed to transform themselves yet, although there are plenty that are working on it.

It also helps that I’ve spent a few years working on sustainability focused change management projects, so I have a working understanding of the different stages, which I’ve drawn out here:
Let’s dig in, starting from the bottom:

  1. Rejection: Pretty self explanatory, really. This is a government that actively refuses to take steps towards opening data.
  2. No Response: This is a government that isn’t actively refusing to take action but isn’t making any positive effort either.
  3. Compliance: If regulations require opening data, these governments will do the bare minimum.
  4. Efficiency: At this stage someone is making strategic decisions about what data to open in order to save the government time or money.
  5. City as platform: Providing clean, structured data is the default; withholding data is the exception.

Of course, naming the stages is the easy part. The real question is: how do you move a government up the scale?

It’s easy to see how to move a government from rejection to compliance – just pass a law! While we’re waiting for the policy people to stop laughing, let’s take a closer look at the second half of the scale.

Apps contests as change agents

In an upcoming O’Reilly manual I’m writing with Virginia Carlson, I’m going to explore how civic apps competitions can move governments from compliance to efficiency and from efficiency to city as platform.

A common critique of civic apps competitions is that the apps don’t last. This is usually true, but there are other good outcomes of a apps competition that may be more important. Apps contests are a way to push government along the progression from rejection to city as platform. While apps for finding pickup basketball or cheap parking are nice, the long term transformation of government is a more permanent and wider reaching outcome.

Change management studies tell us there are four outcomes that make change stick:

  1. Examples (I see it): Show what success looks like.
  2. Assessment (I need it): Show how the change will make my work life better.
  3. Practice (I do it): Get started.
  4. Support (I live it): Build a community of people who support the change.
A well designed and well run civic apps competition can make those things happen in three key ways:
  • Community building: Competitions engage the coding community with government data, which creates a community that supports the change to city as platform.
  • “Proof of Concept” apps: Competition apps are examples that demonstrate the usefulness of making government data public to businesses and NGOs  – even if they don’t stand alone after the competition ends.
  • Test drive data practices: Competitions frequently speed the development of clean and structured data, which provides practice.

Compared to a nice, solid app these outcomes might seem pretty intangible, but that’s because the learning process is a nebulous thing. Institutional development is hard to see, but has long lasting impact.

– Kate Eyler-Werve
– Image by David Starkopf ( CC by/nc )

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From a new colleague at a small and scrappy community organization:

I am writing to follow up on that software you mentioned for managing constituents.  Can you send me a link? — AM

And here was my reply:

Hi AM —

The big topic you are looking at is called “relationship management” or “constituent relationship management.”

Think of CRM as your address book on growth hormones, so that it becomes a logbook of every interaction you have with someone who has a stake in your organization. You can be as complete as saying every time your organization has an email, phone or event contact with someone, that goes into the database so you can see what that person’s relationship to your org is. This is useful for lots of things but essential for small donor fundraising — is this someone’s first gift, or their 10th? You want to treat them differently: an introduction, or an informal thank you, or whatever.

However, this can be fiendishly complicated to the unwary. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on one of these systems and still not like it.

Much depends on the quality of your data. If you are starting from scratch (ie everyone has their own lists or no lists) then it’s sometimes easier than starting with a big but messy database. If your data is really big and really a mess, then there are tears.

CC by Juhan Sonin

Useless but pretty: visualizing connections in Wikipedia articles. By Juhan Sonin (CC/by)

It would be great if you could find someone knowledgeable and local to help you implement a solution. Face to face works best, and you need someone who is a good long term partner — not an intern, not a one time volunteer — they’ll be the ones who help this database grow with you over time. Someone on staff who wants to learn can work well too.

A basic system that you can try out for a month for free is HighRise by 37 Signals. It’s a minimalist approach that emphasizes easy to use basics. It runs $25 a month, which is usually well worth it if you are using it heavily. This is a good solution for a group with minimal tech support and little up front capital because it works out of the box and is bills monthly. If it’s not working,  you can shut it off.

Here’s an Idealware reading list on CRM, but frankly a lot of this advice makes my head hurt. It’s good, but pretty dense stuff.

Here’s an Aspiration manifesto on how nonprofits should think about technology. Recommended.

Good luck! Let me know how you do.

Cheers,
Jonathan

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