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Selena Deckelmann 6 January 2008

Selena Deckelmann

Sysadmin, Event Organizer, Chicken Keeper

Selena Deckelmann bikes herself to work everyday at Chris King Precision Components, a bicycle parts manufacturer in Portland, OR, where she is Information Systems Manager. She currently leads PDXPUG, a PostgreSQL Users Group, and helps organize Code n Splode, a programming group whose goal is to get more women involved in open source. She is on the board of Legion of Tech. In her spare time, she collects eggs from her chickens, gardens and occasionally mixes drinks for Portland Perl Mongers.

She lives in NE Portland with her husband, Scott.

What are you up to?

Its the new year, and at Chris King, I just finished an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software implementation. I was project manager and the lead data migration programmer. ERP can be wickedly complex and in our case, the transition involved the whole company: from purchasing and manufacturing to sales and shipping. I learned a ton about project management and complex software, and see more big software projects coming up!

In my spare time, I co-organized a successful PostgreSQL Conference last October in Portland. I’m also organizing PostgreSQL Conference East, at the University of Maryland at College Park on March 29 and 30, 2008.

Right around Halloween, I spent a week in the Gulf Coast region cleaning up mold, working at an animal shelter and volunteering at Project Lazarus. I was with a group of sixteen people brought together by Hands On Greater Portland. I’m hoping to lead another group back to the Gulf Coast sometime

What are you into?

I like open source software and the communities that have sprung up around it. I think programmers are at their best when they are sharing their code. I like spending time baking and cooking, and have been known to bring cookies to my user group meetings.

When its not pouring down rain outside, I like to garden. I love turning over fresh dirt and finding fat, happy worms to feed to my chickens.  I love hanging out with friends, playing games and drinking beer. But, I have to say, I’m a terrible winner at Boggle.

What do you like most about Portland?

I moved here originally because I thought it was a big city, and I stayed here because of the small town feel of my neighborhood. I love riding my bike to the bars, the great music and the trivia nights. I try not to miss Last Thursday on Alberta – although a lot of fun was lost when the Clown House disbanded. Most of all, I love that when I walk to the grocery store, I hear chickens clucking away in my neighbors backyards, as well as my own.

Why do you call yourself a sysadmin?

After ten years, I think that the name is still a good one for the technical work I enjoy most.

System administration is a job for a generalist. Sysadmins work on a multi-user computer systems, and have an interest in automation. They arent tied to a particular technology, and use systems theories to guide their practice.

For me, system administration is still a trade. I learned the principles by apprenticing with mentors I sought out, rather than by taking classes. Today, there are degree options for sysadmins, but I dont think that the trade aspect of the profession will ever go away.

You keep chickens? Really?

Yes, I do. I have two chickens – Connie and Popcicle. During the summer, I get one green and one brown egg a day.

They do me a lot of favors: eating bugs, scaring my cats and providing great compost manure. That helps me forgive them when they get into the strawberry patch, or mow seedlings down to the ground in the spring.


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