Apply for your GNOME membership!

Many of you have probably already seen Alberto’s post that Planet GNOME will only include members going forward.

I wanted to take the time to urge all of you who have been putting it off or have been unsure – now’s the time to apply for membership!. It may seem intimidating (I actually put off applying for membership myself until I was already Executive Director – shameful!) but all kinds of contributions to GNOME can count towards membership and you don’t need to be a maintainer or super hacker. The rules say:

Any person who has made non-trivial contributions to the GNOME project and who submits a proper application to the Membership Committee will be approved for membership. A non-trivial contribution is any activity which contributes to the development of the project at a level significantly above that expected of a normal user or fan of GNOME.

Examples of non-trivial contributions include hacking, bugfixing, extensive testing, design, documentation, translation, administration or maintenance of project-wide resources, giving GNOME talks at conferences and community coordination such as bugzilla or release management. Any activity, such as advocacy or submitting bug reports, must substantially exceed the level of contribution expected of an ordinary user or fan of the project to qualify an individual for membership in the Foundation.

Not sure if you’ve contributed enough to get your membership already? Let’s have a mini membership hackfest! Email me or find me in IRC (I’m karenesq on GIMPNet) and I’ll try to help come up with good tasks you can work on in the next few weeks. We really have a lot going on right now that we can use help with. For example, we’re working to put together our annual report and could really use more articles and other content to make it good, which probably doesn’t require a large learning curve to get started. Being a member of the Foundation is important – not only do you get a say in who’s on the board, keep your blog on the planet, qualify for travel sponsorships and get a great @gnome.org email address, but you are showing your support for a great organization that’s making the world a better place.

Back from LCA!

After a long series of flights this weekend, I’m finally home from my trip to linux.conf.au.

My time in Australia kicked off with AdaCamp in Melbourne over the weekend, which was fantastic and which I’ll give its own post in the coming days. I find conferences to be very intense and can never seem to find the time to blog while I’m there. I’m impressed with those who manage to pull it off.

LCA was a fantastic conference. I greatly enjoyed meeting people and catching up with old friends. It was great to be able to talk about GNOME with everyone. Many people didn’t know about extensions.gnome.org and others hadn’t actually seen GNOME3 and were impressed when I showed them my laptop. (And happily quite a number went away excited to try it.)

I gave two talks at the conference. The first was at the Business of Open Source Miniconf on Monday which was organized by Martin Michlmayr, where I talked about the nuts and bolts of nonprofit law. Since the talk was outside the United States, I kept the discussion mostly on a conceptual level, focusing on issues like governance and common pitfalls for nonprofit management. Usually I worry that these kinds of talks are very boring but perhaps this approach was better, as this time the audience seemed really engaged. I was the last talk of the day, and the Q&A session lasted well past the scheduled end time. Unfortunately, the talk wasn’t recorded but I’d be happy to send the slides on to anyone who is interested.

The keynote I gave on Thursday was my medical devices talk but longer and with more of a focus on GNOME – the thrust of the talk being that software has become critical to our lives and to our society and that since free and open source software is safer over time, we must make it usable so that we can build a bridge to ordinary users. I loved being able to talk about GNOME’s accessibility campaign in this context too. I hope that folks who listened to the talk will give to the campaign so we can make real headway on accessibility.

I was totally overwhelmed with the responses to my keynote. The twitter stream was amazing, but I especially loved the fact that folks were saying that they now want to hack on GNOME after my talk. GNOME developers should be proud about what they’re doing. They’re really making the world a better place. I’m so glad to be able to represent and support the community.

This point was underscored by Jacob Applebaum in his keynote (which was amazing but I think hasn’t been posted yet). He of course talked about security, our governments and ways that we can protect ourself against surveillance. He made great points and I learned quite a lot from his talk. In his conclusion, Jake made several calls for action, including hacking on GNOME (I was particularly proud that he quoted me as saying “the Guh in GNOME is for freedom”). He suggested we build Tor as a default into our desktop to promote more secure web use, and I think that’s a really fabulous idea. One of the problems that we have with improving security generally is getting ordinary people to understand why it’s important and how to implement it. GNOME could be the perfect place for this, as our community understands these issues and is skilled at making beautiful software that is accessible and easy to use.

It may be silly, but thanks to Jake and also Paul Fenwick who got all the crickets out of my room the night before my talk so I could prep and sleep!

I also met with a few reporters and will link to other articles if they wind up getting published.

Kudos to the LCA2012 team, especially Josh Stewart and Kathy Reid. The conference was well organized, interesting and fun. Thanks for bringing me to Australia!

what I’ve been up to this week

With the holidays behind us, I was happy to get back in the full swing of things this week. In no particular order and among other things, this past week I…

  • sent interview questions to Daniel Siegel about GNOME participation in Google’s summer of code for our biannual report. I also have been working on my introduction for the report. Emily Gonyer and Juanjo Marin have been great about working on the report. Dave Neary and Marina Zhurakhinskaya have contributed content too!
  • sent some catch up emails to a few of GNOME’s advisory board members.
  • finalized my travel arrangements to Australia for AdaCamp Melbourne and linux.conf.au. I leave on Wednesday and I’m quite excited for both events! If you’re going to be at either event, come say hi – I’d love to see you. Now I just need to finish my talks…
  • evaluated and discussed proposals for the legal issues and policy devroom I’m helping to coordinate at FOSDEM with Tom Marble, “Bradley Kuhn and Richard Fontana. Tom in particular has really been doing a tremendous amount of work on making sure the day is well scheduled and goes off without a hitch! Also, it looks like we’re going to have a marketing meeting at FOSDEM as well. Let me know if you’re going to be there and would like to participate.
  • recorded an oggcast with Bradley for Free as In Freedom. We’ve just released the last episode in which we talk about the devroom. The one we recorded this week was inspired by my anticipation of AdaCamp (but you’ll have to wait until the amazing Dan Lynch puts the show together).
  • dealt with some trademark related things with Justin Colannino at SFLC. A thousand thanks to Justin for all of his hard work on GNOME matters as he transitions out of SFLC.
  • worked with Christy Eller and Juanjo on nominating GNOME for the Computerworld Honors program, which is great because we’re putting together materials that I hope can be turned into grant applications. I’ve loved how fun the #marketing channel has become!
  • talked with a couple of members of the a11y team, about the ongoing campaign and other things. I am so inspired by their commitment to accessibility.
  • helped Rosanna with updating the retirement plan that the Foundation has, mostly to fix a hilarious typo. It’s funny – the last time I looked at the legal documents for the plan I was at SFLC.
  • started working on my own six month report to the board. It’s great to think of my time at GNOME from a general perspective, and I think it will focus me on what’s important in the months to come.
  • did a bunch of pro bono work for Conservancy, as they’ve had a lot going on and are coming up on their audit deadline very soon.