Some things I’ve recently been up to

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Apologies, I’ve gotten out of the habit of posting what I’ve been working on!

In the past couple of weeks I’ve:

  • written a proposal for a grant for the Outreach Program for Women
  • with Marina, developed a formal sponosrship structure for OPW and started contacting organizations and sponsors about the next round of internships
  • worked with the GNOME.Asia team – the conference is shaping up very impressively!
  • started working with Sri and Flavia on the press release for GNOME 3.8, and requested some quotes from some prominent people.
  • worked a bit with Flavia – I’m just a co-mentor for this round’s OPW and I’m again struck by how much more I wish I were doing as a mentor. Thank you thank you thank you to all of the great GNOME mentors (and mentors from other projects). And a thank you to Flavia for keeping me focused and also for reaching out to other folks as well.
  • worked on the annual report, following up with contributors, writing content and proofreading and editing – we’re almost there!
  • partially wrote my talk for LibrePlanet, which is coming up this weekend. I’ve got to get that finished and polished in the next day or two!
  • discussed speaking at a couple of conferences and also at a for-profit company, I’ll keep you posted about upcoming conferences and mention below the ones coming up soon.
  • worked on a few annoying legal related matters, including a couple of things that have been sitting on my desk for a long time
  • wrote a new template invitation letter for conferences to help with the visa application process for GNOMEes who need visas to travel to our hackfests and GUADEC
  • reviewed our form 990, along with Shaun and Rosanna
  • prepared for the a11y grant proposals to come in, and sent out a reminder about the deadline, which was at the end of last week.
  • had my usual meetings – one on one with Andreas, the GNOME.Asia meeting, a board meeting, etc.

Upcoming speaking engagements

  • I’m speaking at LibrePlanet this weekend. It’s a great conference with an awesome freedom-loving audience! I’ve been speaking here for the past few years so it’s really exciting to be asked to give one of the keynotes.I’ll be talking about idealism in free software communities, mostly inspired by the awesomeness of the GNOME community and its struggles following the introduction of GNOME 3
  • Next month I’ll be at the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit, where I’ll be speaking in three different sessions. I’ll be speaking on the legal track (though with a talk that’s not really that much of a legal talk), giving a talk about the Outreach Program for Women and moderating a panel about GPLv3 issues in the auto industry. Should be busy but fun!

Come speak at GNOME.Asia in Seoul!

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All Gangnam Style jokes aside, I wanted to remind you that the 2013 GNOME.Asia summit has its Call for Papers deadline coming up on March 8. I’m really hoping to make it to South Korea this time because I know how awesome the summit has been in recent years! On top of that, there’s a lot of exciting things going on in free software in South Korea, there’s a solid GNOME team based there and they’re providing excellent leadership for the conference! On top of that, Max and the usual GNOME.Asia contributors continue to provide impressive dedication and enthusiasm.

Don’t forget to submit your proposal at http://2013.gnome.asia/cfp/

Your Cyborg

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I’ve been remiss about posting this, but I was interviewed by Canadian Broadcast about medical devices recently. Here is the podcast of the show, which interviews a few people about this (they don’t get to this segment until quite a bit into the file). While they wound up not publishing my discussion specifically of GNOME, the website does link back to this blog. I was happy to hear the discussion framed as one about freedom, and was interested to hear what the other speakers had to say.

2013, year of accessibility (and FOSDEM)

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The problem with declaring something like: “2012 is the year of accessibility for GNOME!” is that it sound like we’ll be moving on after the year is over. Not so! Today we published the call for bids to use the money that we raised from our Friends of GNOME campaign plus another $10,000 generously contributed by Mozilla.

This puts me in exactly the right mindset to listen to Alejandro Piñeiro’s talk at FODSEM on Sunday morning, “How GNOME Obsoleted its “Enable Accessibility” Setting”.

I also can’t wait for Vincent Untz’s Has the GNOME community gone crazy?” talk on Sunday! See you at FOSDEM – I’m in Brussels already and about to head out to meetings including the first in-person advisory board meeting not at GUADEC (at least in a long time). I’m moderating a panel on compliance Saturday morning in the legal issues room which I’m co-chairing again, and will try to spend some quality time at the GNOME booth too. And don’t forget the GNOME beer event on Saturday!

Help Make GNOME Safer than Ever!

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Today we’ve launched a new Friends of GNOME campaign, aimed at making GNOME one of the most secure computing environments available.

Privacy is an extremely important component of a top notch computing environment. Many of us choose to use GNU/Linux systems with privacy in mind. However, while we have many of the right tools in the free software world, we don’t have a desktop where they are well integrated into the user experience.

After meeting Jacob Appelbaum at LCA, I was really inspired about work we could do at GNOME to improve the desktop and make it more secure. Happily, Jacob agreed to come to GUADEC and deliver a GNOME-centric keynote just for us.

Many of us in the GNOME community have been talking about this since then, and have now decided to focus our efforts around a Friends of GNOME campaign. We’re also having a discussion that you can join on desktop-devel-list about features we can add to improve the situation.

So as you head out or stay in for your end of year celebrations, please donate to our new campaign!

The Ups and Downs of GNOME 3

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One of the most interesting parts of being Executive Director of GNOME has been riding the wave of feedback on GNOME 3. I took the position after GNOME 3 was already released, and it was that beautiful vision of the GNU/Linux desktop that inspired me to leave a job I loved. Since then, the highs have been really high and the lows have been tough. One of the very visible disappointments we had was aggressive criticism from Linus Torvalds, which started a cascade of detraction by others and a perception of a real decline in the GNOME community. It’s been difficult to reconcile all of the ups and downs. At GUADEC, we had such a rich experience with great participation by a broad community (and with a very high percentage of active attendance by newcomers) while at the very same time the blogoverse was exploding with news that our contributor diversity had completely dwindled away.

An article today in the Register got me thinking about all of this in a fresh way. The article talks about Linus Torvalds, and primarily about his style of interacting with others. The article ends with this:

Torvalds has switched back to GNOME 3 as he reckons the desktop GUI’s problems are being fixed: “It has been getting less painful. They have extensions that are still too hard to find. You can make your desktop look almost as good as it did two years ago.”

I was a little stunned as I read that – it was an afterthought to the article, and it really brought home how things often work in the free software press. The criticism we received was featured by many – if Linus Torvalds slammed GNOME, then how could it have any future? And yet, not so long after, he’s switched back. The point is that it really takes time to get things right. In free software, we develop in the open. We release often, and sometimes it takes more time to make something that is truly ready for prime time. But by going ahead early, we have the chance to really build a community around our software, be inclusive and have a chance to make mistakes and then learn from them with input from others.

At GUADEC and in connection with our 15th anniversary, we talked a lot about how negatively GNOME 2 was perceived upon release and how it took a long time for it to become the desktop that everyone loved. I think this is how that happens in a true free software community run project – through slow incremental improvements that may only be acknowledged as afterthoughts in an article.

Linus may not stay with GNOME 3 but I’m glad he’s giving it another go and having a more positive experience. I hope that others do the same. I remain as inspired as ever by GNOME. GNOME 3 is a beautiful desktop experience that I continue to enjoy using and love showing off to others. Our community is vibrant. I’m proud to be a part of it and look forward to seeing it grow and improve, incrementally and over time!

Newcomer Experience Survey

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As Marina has written about already, PhD student Kevin Carillo has put up a survey to evaluate the experience of newcomers to the Debian, GNOME, Gentoo, KDE, Mozilla, Ubuntu, NetBSD and OpenSUSE communities.

The survey is only for newcomers, so only take it if you joined one of those communities within the last 3 years (after January 2010).

Thanks to Kevin for studying our free software communities! While we try to make the best experience we can for newcomers, I know that folks have varied experiences in actuality. Getting involved with the Ada Initiative has reminded me of just how far we have to go in order to make our communities truly inclusive. Understanding what our recent newcomers think about their introduction to GNOME can really help. So, if you joined us after January 2010 please take a moment to fill out the survey…

All is well!

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Thanks for all of your kind thoughts and wishes. Baby and I are safe at home now and we’re all starting to figure things out! I’ll be around intermittently for the next week, and am checking email and voicemail if anything urgent comes up. (For those of you interested in my medical devices work – I met yet another electrophysiologist who hadn’t heard that ICDs could be maliciously hacked. Also, the shock that comes in your leg when you get an epidural feels exactly like getting shocked by an implanted defibrillator. weird!)

If this is posted…

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…it’s because I’ve gone to the hospital to have a baby! I’ll likely not have an out of office message on my email straight away but be unresponsive for a few days at least. Thanks for understanding, and for your good wishes!

Off to GUADEC!

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It’s been a crazy week leading up to GUADEC, doing preparatory work and helping to wrap up a wide variety of tasks. It’s times like this that I’m happy I work from home, as working a lot and taking it easy haven’t been mutually exclusive. After a good amount of back and forth with doctors, I’m happy to say that I’m hopping on a plane tomorrow. In order to come to GUADEC I had to plan an easier travel schedule than normal, so I’ll be arriving in A Coruña on Monday. I’m excited to see everyone and for what’s shaping up to be a fabulous conference! See you there!

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