Beefy Miracle was approved by the Fedora Board and Legal, so it's officially on the Fedora 16 release name ballot - vote for Beefy now!

Why do I actually think this is a good idea? It's not because "all publicity is good publicity." See, one of the things I work towards is igniting more hackers - more people curious about and tinkering with the way things work, the way things get made. And for that, we need more folks saying whoa, how did that happen? If a release named "Beefy Miracle" doesn't get the world to do a double-take and say wait, what? - then... I don't know what will. Once we have that curiosity and that attention, I want to make sure that we have the right resources to tap it.

Here's what I want to see.

  1. Beefy Miracle is elected the Fedora 16 release name, and my boss Max Spevack hosts a wiener roast, as promised.
  2. Beefy celebration materials - which already exist - are ready to deploy. We have an account, a flyer made in Inkscape, blog images and badges, and a fully graphically-rebranded Linux distribution, just to name a few. (Bonus points if someone remixes the Scribus media sleeve design for Beefy.) All 100% open code and content, made with 100% FOSS tools - with a prominent "this is creative commons licensed" stamp at the bottom, and a "read the SUPER SEKRIT STORY of the Miracle" URL beside it.
  3. The Beefy celebration spreads across the internet like wildfire, getting retweeted, redented, thrown up on Slashdot, Reddit, LWN... and even BusinessWeek, the New York Times, Time Magazine - imagine a little sidebar titled "Beefy Miracle: how did serious software get such a silly name - and the thousands of collaborators behind it." (Okay, someone who actually has journalistic sense, please come up with a better headline here.)
  4. Hundreds of thousands of people going "wtf?" flock to the "behind the scenes" site, and they're met with a warm welcome to the Free and Open Source Software and Content movement - how did Beefy start? Look at how all these distributed collaborators came together - Max blogged, and Pam did a trademark check while Ryan printed shirts and Sebastian generated a Remix image, hosted by Ian on a box shared with Paul, with Ricky working on the torrent and Robyn denting the release news while I modified Mo's original artwork into release notes... look at how these same tools and processes produce huge things you rely on every day - the software that runs Wall Street, the browser sitting on your desktop, the textbook in your college's design classroom, the website of the White House. Look at how you can tinker with them too - here's all the source to download, everything you need to remix our release notes, print your own CD sleeves for a project of your own - see, you can remix them legally because of proper licensing - and if you use these tools, these processes, this notion of "the open source way" that the world is picking up on more and more each day, then your stuff can be freed like this as well. You can join us. You can be part of this movement. Let us help you get and learn the tools you'll need. Help us work on Beefy Miracle.

In short, I see Beefy Miracle as an opportunity for education. It's a way to reach a broad audience we usually don't get exposed to - the folks who think Free Software is all serious and technical and hard, that open source is a mystical realm of flamewars and crufty humorless programmers slaving away in basements simply to make a computer run faster, that it's not a world they'd want to look at, step into, hang out in. Has this been done before? Oh, yes. See One Velociraptor Per Child (if you don't immediately get the parody, click here) or Alexis Ohanian's TEDtalk
on social media and Mister Splashypants
and think about how we could do an even better job of harnessing interest into more world-hacking.

Am I serious? About as serious as one can get when proposing to advance free software and content via smiling hotdogs - yes, this is partially tongue-in-cheek, but I really did vote for Beefy Miracle as a release name, and the mental image above is most of the reason why (the rest of it is that I really want to put Beefy Miracle - October 2011 on my CV). I'm not proposing that pumping Beefy! swag is the only thing we should spend our time on - it's obviously not! It's just a name, just a logo, just a mascot... it makes people chuckle, and that's great - and that goes hand-in-hand with hard work, actually making things happen, work, ship. We can get caught up in flamewars about the meaning of Fedora and all this serious-sounding stuff, but when you start flamewars over Beefy Miracle it's hard to take yourself too seriously... everyone eventually has a good laugh and gets back to the work of getting out a damn good Linux distribution.

You may agree with me, you may think this is a terrible idea, you may decide to create a counter-movement of vegan meal names because Beefy is insulting to non-meat-eaters (we actually have Mr. Happy Breakfast Taco Guy for the veggies). Either way, I hope the release name makes you think - and whatever you think, please vote.

This post is made 100% of my own opinion. No fillers, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or viewpoints of my employer are expressed herein.
Via Greg Hislop,
an article on computational thinking in daily life that made me laugh out loud. I thought I was the only person who did this stuff! (Okay,
maybe just me and Sacha.)

Pipelining: Seth
Goldstein, associate professor of computer science, once remarked to me
that most buffet lines could benefit from computational thinking: “Why
do they always put the dressing before the salad? The sauce before the
main dish? The silverware at the start? They need some pipeline theory.”

Hashing: After giving a talk at a
department meeting about computational thinking, Professor Danny Sleator
told me about a hashing function his children use to store away Lego
blocks at home. According to Danny, they hash on several different
categories: rectangular thick blocks, other thick (non-rectangular)
blocks, thins (of any shape), wedgies, axles, rivets and spacers, “fits
on axle,” ball and socket and “miscellaneous.” They even have rules to
classify pieces that could fit into more than one category. “Even though
this is pretty crude, it saves about a factor of 10 when looking for a
piece,” Danny says. Professor Avrim Blum overheard my conversation with
Danny and chimed in “At our home, we use a different hash function.”

Sorting: The following story is
taken verbatim from an email sent by Roger Dannenberg, associate
research professor of computer science and professional trumpeter. “I
showed up to a big band gig, and the band leader passed out books with
maybe 200 unordered charts and a set list with about 40 titles we were
supposed to get out and place in order, ready to play. Everyone else
started searching through the stack, pulling out charts one-at-a-time. I
decided to sort the 200 charts alphabetically O(N log(N)) and then pull
the charts O(M log(N)). I was still sorting when other band members
were halfway through their charts, and I started to get some funny
looks, but in the end, I finished first. That’s computational thinking.”

Clearly, graduate school will be awesome.