Thinking Fondly of GUADEC

It’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged and Oliver Propst is here in New York and since I’ve been telling him about GUADEC I realized that instead I should write it all down!

Getting to GUADEC was very exciting for me as I finished my talk at OSCON and then ran straight to the airport in order to make my flight. Unfortunately this meant that I missed the first day of GUADEC in addition to the all day board meeting the day before. All of the travel was worth it when the bus pulled into the station in Strasbourg to find Rosanna and Sri waiting for me! We walked over to the bar gathering and it was fantastic to see everyone and catch up and I was immersed in GUADEC all over again.

It was really fun to be at GUADEC and definitely a different experience than as Executive Director. There were so many great talks that it was often hard to choose between the two tracks. I loved volunteering to help with sessions and felt pretty privileged to introduce two of the keynotes: Nate Willis and Matthew Garrett. Nate spoke about automotive software with the cool narrative of hacking his own car. I loved that he tied it all back to GNOME with practical recommendations for the community. Matthew gave an incredibly inspirational talk about GNOME and its future. I highly recommend watching the video when it comes out if you didn’t get a chance to see it in person. I think we’ll have a lot to talk about over the next year and a lot of work ahead of us too.

I spoke about what I learned as Executive Director of GNOME. It was nice to reflect over the years I spent in the role and also to provide some recommendations going forward. The GNOME community is exceptional and if we can prioritize attracting newcomers and communicating better about why we do what we do we’ll be unstoppable. I proposed that we have technical evangelists for GNOME so that we have the ability to appoint our most articulate and charismatic community members as representatives. I think the GNOME community needs to go to companies and talk to them about GNOME and help them with their GNOME usage (or potential GNOME usage). Happily two extraordinary people volunteered after my talk so we’ll see!

All of the board meetings were a bit grueling but I think good discussions were had. And the marketing hackfest was fun and productive as usual.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the hard work of Alexandre and Natalie who made GUADEC run so smoothly, even in a venue that they had to scramble to arrange when the original venue fell though at the last minute. Happily, Alexandre was the winner of the coveted Pants Award this year, so we had multiple opportunities for our community to express our gratitude.

I also had a blast shining the bright light of truth on the Swedish Conspiracy. And I’m looking forward to GUADEC in Goethenburg too!

Thanks to the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my travel!

Welcome to the official new GNOME board!

As we just posted on gnome.org, the Elections Committee announced the official results of the GNOME elections this week. The new board members are:

  • Emmanuele Bassi
  • Joanmarie Diggs
  • Seif Lotfy
  • Shaun McCance
  • Tobias Mueller
  • Andreas Nilsson
  • Bastien Nocera

It’s a lot of commitment and effort to serve as a Director, so these people (and all of the candidates) deserve a big thank you. In particular, the outgoing directors need special mention – Brian Cameron, Ryan Lortie, Stormy Peters, and Germán Póo-Caamaño all have worked so hard and have given so much over the past year(s). Join me in thanking them!

Help GNOME reach its accessibility fundraising goal!

We just posted this item on gnome.org:

We’re closing in on our goal of $20,000 for our accessibility campaign. If you haven’t already, take a look at the testimonial by Diego Sánchez that we’ve been lucky to include. As Diego says, GNOME 3 has really helped him: “I’m happy because I can now use the computer in my classroom without any assistance.” Our accessibility team‘s work has made a big difference in many people’s lives, but we still have a long way to go. Help us make our goal and donate now via our Friends of GNOME program!

If you haven’t given the our accessibility campaign already, I encourage you to do so! I am so inspired by the work that Alejandro Piñeiro, Joanmarie Diggs, Juan José Marin and the rest of the team do. Thanks again to Robert Cole and Diego Sánchez for allowing us to highlight how much GNOME and GNU/Linux has meant to them.

GNOME 3.4 is here!

I’m so excited that GNOME 3.4 has been released. There is a lot of good information in the press release and the release notes that were published today. GNOME 3.4 is great – it’s much more polished and also fixes a number of small things that make a much better user experience (including some users found annoying in the previous GNOME 3 releases).

Some of the improvements include:

  • Smoother scrolling, better systems settings
  • Document search
  • Video calling added to Empathy
  • More intelligent pop-ups and message tray
  • Better accessibility support
  • Sleek and zippy Epiphany (which is also renamed to “Web”)
  • Better hardware support
  • A lot of small enhancements made through our Every Detail Matters effort

Since version 3.2 six months ago, GNOME received 41,000 contributions made by 1,275 people – incredible! Many thanks to the whole GNOME community for working together on this release, and to Matthias Clasen, Allan Day, Andreas Nilsson and Andre Klapper for working so hard on all of the coordination to get the release out the door.

Some things I’ve been up to

It’s been an exciting and busy couple of weeks. Here are a selection of things I’ve done, so that you can see what I’ve been up to!

  • worked with Chun-Hung Huang (sakanamax) and the GNOME.Asia committee to choose a bid for GNOME.Asia, get emails and announcements ready, etc. This year GNOME.Asia will be in Hong Kong!
  • worked with Walter Bender and the nice folks at MIT about reserving rooms for the Boston Summit. It won’t be official for a little while, but it’s looking good.
  • participated in our GUADEC organizing meeting. We definitely need some more good ideas for keynoters so let me know if you have any ideas!
  • worked on some interviews, followed up with journalists. I’ve been so happy that my LCA talk continued to get press, but I’ve been sad that it’s meant that I’ve had to turn down some speaking opportunities – I’ve just been doing way too much travel and need to stay put at least for a little bit to get some work done (I feel like I’m always playing catch up). The next public speaking I have lined up is a free culture panel at SXSW, which I’ll be taking some vacation to attend (it feels funny to be taking vacation to speak at yet another conference, but it’s work for QuestionCopyright not GNOME, and besides I can attend a lot of the music performances! The next GNOME related speaking I’ve got lined up is LibrePlanet2012!
  • worked with Rosanna on GNOME’s Form 990 (and asked a lot of questions of our accountant!)
  • started fundraising for the next OPW round with potential new sponsors
  • worked on the biannual report
  • contacted schools for the blind and deaf to see if we could develop any partnerships with our accessibility campaign. Worked with Juanjo Marin on another story for the FoG campaign (coming soon!)
  • worked with Aaron Williamson of SFLC about fixing a bug in GNOME’s bylaws.
  • did some research and looked into trademark implications of uses of logos in Boxes for Zeeshan
  • contacted Hylke Bons, who confirmed explicit permission to use the adorable robot logo he designed for GNOME 3
  • nagged various people about various things
  • thanked various people for various work. I’m always astounded by how awesome our volunteers are! We have to estimate the number of volunteers GNOME has for our afore mentioned Form 990 report, and it’s amazing how quickly the number adds up – thank you to volunteers who organize events around the world, who spend their time staffing the booths at those conferences, who compose our awesome sysadmin team, and our dedicated marketing team, who volunteer to be on our board, who run the outreach program for women and who mentor new contributors in all all out outreach programs, who write documentation, who contribute articles for our reports and press, and of course, who contribute on a volunteer basis to our code base!
  • recorded and published an oggcast on Ambjörn Elder’s talk from FOSDEM entitled Methods of FOSS Activism. I apologize for the crummy quality of my audio – I didn’t realize my gain was so high
  • helped coordinate getting GNOME Do their freenode channel, with SEJeff and Sri’s help!
  • communicated with a few advisory board members, and a potential advisory board member
  • followed up on overdue invoices to the GNOME Foundation

My recent activities

I’ve been a bit remiss at posting, due to my travel schedule (and more recently thanksgiving with relatives from out of town and the like). Last week I went to Latvia to keynote at the LATA conference in Riga. Perhaps not surprisingly to readers here, I spoke (in English) about software freedom and how the software that we should consider essential has expanded considerably. GNOME of course features into that prominently. You can see the video of the talk here. Thanks so much to Rūdolfs Mazurs, who in addition to filming the talk, sat next to me during most of the conference and translated from Latvian! He was such a good translator that I was even able to ask questions and feel fully engaged in the sessions. It was an exciting conference, and I was glad to hear folks who are active with free software in Latvia say in their talks that “GNOME Shell is the future”.

Not too long before LATA, I was able to attend UDS in Orlando. It was a very interesting conference, and I was sponsored by Canonical to attend. I had quite a number of productive meetings with GNOME and Canonical folks there and particularly enjoyed getting to know some of the Ubuntu community members who are not Canonical affiliated. I had a few thoughts that came out of attending UDS that I hope to give their own posts.

While at UDS, I interviewed Adam Dingle from Yorba for the Free as in Freedom oggcast. We talked about free software nonprofits, software freedom generally and the great work that Yorba is doing (you probably know them from their Shotwell photo manager software).

I also interviewed Stefano Zacchiroli, the DPL of Debian. That episode was just released today. We talked about Debian, GNOME and copyleft, and there’s a discussion about the interview with me and Bradley as well.

I’ve also been mentoring a few tasks for Google’s Code-in. I was happy to help GNOME get accepted to the program and now we’re starting to see the benefits. Thanks to Andre Klapper for all of his ongoing hard work!

While on the road I helped Marina to organize and get ready to announce the new round of participants in the Outreach Program for Women. We were able to include 12 participants this time, in a wide range of areas! I’m particularly excited, as I’m also a mentor for one of the participants. The actual work for the program begins in a couple of weeks, when you’ll start to see a lot of activity on the Planet from these ladies. It was a privilege to work with the sponsors of the program to solidify the announcement: A thousand thank yous to Google, Mozilla, Collabora, Red Hat and the GNOME Foundation itself.

I’m very happy to be home and not travelling for the next few weeks – there’s so much to be done! In particular, I’m looking forward to announcing a new Friends of GNOME program…