From Yakkety To Zesty

I've seen Ms. Belkin go ahead and wrap up the Y (Yakkety) season while giving a look ahead to the Z (Zesty) season. I'm afraid I cannot give as much of a report. My participation in the Ubuntu realm has been a bit held back by things beyond my control.

During the Y season I was stuck at work. I have a hefty commute to work which pretty much wrecks my day when included with my working hours. My work is considered seasonal which for a federal civil servant means that it is subject to workload constraints. Apparently we did not have a proper handle on workload this year. The estimate was that our work would be done by a certain date and we would go on "seasonal release" or furlough until we are recalled to duty. We missed that date by quite a longshot. After quite a bit of attrition, angry resignations, people checking into therapy, people developing cardiac issues, and worse my unit received "seasonal release" only last Friday. Recall could be as soon as two weeks away.

The only main action I really wanted to handle during Y was to get a backport in of dianara and pumpa if they dropped new releases. I was a little late in doing so but I just got the backport bug for dianara filed tonight. I kept stating I would wait for furlough to do the testing but furlough took long enough that a couple versions of dianara went by in the interim. Folks looking at pump.io have to remember that even the website to a server is itself a client and new features have to be implemented in clients for the main server engine to pass around. The website isn't the point to pump.io but rather the use of a client of your choice is and a list is being maintained.

I don't really know what the plan is for Z for me. Right now many eyes around the world are focused on the election for President of the United States. People regard that office as the so-called leader of the free world. That person also happens to be head of the civil service in the United States. Neither of the major party candidates have nice plans for my employing agency. Both scare me. A good chunk of the attrition and angry resignations at work has been people fleeing for the safety of the private sector in light of what is expected from either major party candidate.

Backporting will continue subject to resource restrictions. I remain a student in the Emergency Management and Planning Administration program at Lakeland Community College with graduation expected in May 2017 subject to course availability. Right now I'm working on learning about the Incident Command System and how it is applied in addition to Continuity of Operations.

Graphic From FEMA's Emergency Management Institute IS-800 Class of the Incident Command System
Graphic From FEMA's Emergency Management Institute IS-800 Class of the Incident Command System

Time will tell where things go. Clues are not readily available to me. I wish they were, perhaps...

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Talking Dollars

One of the hardest topics to talk about in a blog post is business. When it comes to the world of free software, it is generally assumed that there is an algorithm to take care of that. There are also folks out there who are dismissive of "business concerns" and lay concern that nobody should be concerned about your business model while they themselves receive compensation for work in someone else's business model.

I haven't had much time due to the pressures of my job to spend on the fundraising campaign to raise money to get out of my job. Yes, it is an unfortunate catch. There was a research project proposed that may need some tweaks now but fundamentally remains concerned with reviewing access methods to the Internet via satellite. Considering the SpaceX disaster recently that destroyed Facebook's hardware that was to be deployed to space for Internet.org-based access, it is still a live topic without much open or published research. The basis for even doing such a thing started with a satellite called PACSAT launched in the early 1990s but to hear talk of these satellites today you'd think it was a totally new innovation.

By the numbers:

Total Sought

$80,000.00

Year 1 Annual Compensation

$20,000.00

Year 2 Annual Compensation

$20,000.00

Office Rent (Both Years)

$12,000.00

Communications (Both Years)

$5,000.00

Printing (Year Two)

$3,000.00

Travel (Year Two)

$2,000.00

Taxes & Other Compliance Costs (Year Zero)

$18,000.00

Now, these numbers at immediate face value look bizarre. What could cost so much? Isn't research free to conduct? Shouldn't anyone be glad they have a great employer?

First and foremost, bear in mind that I am a civil servant. If you are having a difficult time watching news about the US presidential election, imagine what it looks like to me. The outcome of the election leads to a new chief executive and that may lead to many changes at work. None of the impending scenarios look that great that may yet take effect as of inauguration at 12:01 PM Eastern Time on January 20, 2017.

Research isn't free to conduct. It takes time and that has a cost. Printing the results of research and presenting it somewhere also costs money, too. Working out of my home is not as doable as it might have been previously due to the number of family members being housed under one roof making it hard to have work space set aside. On the other hand there is a nice luthier's workspace here.

Some specific structures were decided upon in putting this together. First and foremost was the need for leasing office space. As noted above, I don't have space to work out of home easily. Since the original proposal happened to have some actual functional research to it involving the mounting of antenna masts and other equipment, finding space elsewhere would be important. I put a new roof on the house not that long ago and do not have that much space to place antennae.

This would have been structured as sole proprietor. That means that the judgment call was made that the project was small enough to not require the founding of a company to sustain a time-limited endeavor. After canvassing multiple potential fiscal sponsors, there was not a suitable match available in northeast Ohio that could be found either. Apparently smaller questions like this don't fit places like an already existing aerospace institute (not big enough) and too many local academic institutions are too focused on social justice/LGBT issues nowadays to do much cross-functional information science research. Paying the various fees to the Ohio Secretary of State for incorporation plus the minimum of $850 in user fees to the Internal Revenue Service itself to ask it for non-profit status was thought to be overkill for just one research project alone.

In the sole proprietor status, all money received would book as income directly to me and I would be taxed on all of it. I would take a direct tax hit in one year even though the project is designed to run for two years. Ideally the running time was planned to be January 2017 through December 2018. Considering who my current employer as a civil servant happens to be, I'm actually well-trained for handling the paperwork involved in such issues and handling compliance in reporting the income. That's also why such a hefty chunk is broken out in the amounts above for paying taxes as well as covering other compliance costs. Income isn't tax-free when you're starting from scratch. This is the least complicated option financially and structurally.

As to the other figures, they're not that hard. The annual compensation is a bit of a cut in pay from what I currently earn per year. I would be able to pay the mortgage but won't be buying diamond rings for anybody any time soon. Telecommunications costs are projected based upon the not very competitive market locally. Printing would involve having copies of the project final report produced for distribution. Travel would involve getting to a conference location to speak.

These aren't the simplest decisions to make on how to proceed in setting things up. They are the difference between trying to proceed and giving up. As we continue to reinvent the wheel in providing Internet via satellite yet don't have a strong literature base about such forms of data transmission, there is a hole to be filled. Waiting for the perfect fiscal structure to support such research may easily result in the research becoming moot as time slips away.

Some dollars have actually been received. Admittedly the goal is still pretty far away. I've not come close to "packing it in" and giving up just yet. Funds can still be donated here: https://www.generosity.com/education-fundraising/fixing-potholes-of-the-information-superhighway

Creative Commons License
Talking Dollars by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://identi.ca/alpacaherder/note/GpHahBCeT7uy5xDPPziBhA.

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