We’re engaged

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One of the many awesome things that happened at GUADEC was that the GNOME marketing team was able to meet again, pretty soon after our New York hackfest. The most visible thing that was decided at this meeting was to change our name from “marketing” to “engagement”. The team has actually been wrestling with this since New York. We realized that using the term “marketing” to describe us was misleading. Marketing is often associated with commercial companies and suggests that we’re trying to sell something (and maybe something that’s not that great either) to make a profit. It also implies that we’ve got professional marketing help. In fact, the team is more about outreach, education, promotion and advocacy. Since we can’t fit all of those words into our name, we decided to go with “engagement” – the aim of all of our activities is to get people to see how great GNOME and our community is, and to make them want to participate more in both our project and the dialog about it. (We also took a little inspiration from Mozilla.)

So thanks to great work by Andrea and Allan and the rest of the team, we’re officially called the “engagement” team, and you can find us on irc.gnome.org at #engagement. The team is amazing – it’s a very diverse group of people, all doing this work as volunteers in their spare time. The group meets every other week and has been impressively productive lately. If you’d like to contribute to GNOME but aren’t sure how, engagement is a great place to start. Plus the IRC channel is just a really nice place to be. Come talk to us!

A sad piece of news about Barnaby Jack

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I’m so sad to write that Barnaby Jack has died. I saw it in this Chicago Tribune article. There don’t seem to be many details about his death except that the police have ruled out foul play.

Barnaby and I were in touch about his work and we were going to schedule him as a guest on the oggcast Bradley Kuhn and I host, Free as in Freedom. I was floored when Barnaby wrote me and said that my presentation was partly the inspiration for his research on medical devices. Hearing about his work helped me stay focused and continue advocating in this area.

I was so impressed by Barnaby’s work that I mention it all the time. I was just interviewed by Linux Format at OSCON a day or two ago and brought him up then, recommending his work. White hat hacking is incredibly important in demonstrating that the systems we rely on are vulnerable in a way that people can understand. Until it was demonstrated that pacemaker/defibrillators could be maliciously hacked by Kevin Fu and his colleagues, no one took my concerns seriously at all. And then Barnaby took it to the next level. His genius and the focus he brought to the task made it possible for me to explain why proprietary software in medical devices (and in all of our society- and life-critical software) is so incredibly dangerous. Not to mention his flair of picking projects and ability to execute on them (he’s probably most well known for getting cash machines to spit out money).

We never got to have our talk where he was going to walk me through the nuts and bolts of the specific attacks he was working on. I am stunned. And saddened. Barnaby did amazing work and I’m so sorry it had to end.

Who do *you* think deserves the pants?

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GUADEC is fast approaching! (Take a minute and register now if you haven’t already.) One of the fun things about GUADEC is that we give an award to an extraordinary contributor. It’s called the pants award.

Yes, the award is an actual pair of pants. Pretty cool, no?

The criteria for the award is quite simple. This person:

  • must go above and beyond in his or her contributions to GNOME. This should be outside (or in addition to) any responsibilities to an employer for work on GNOME.
  • can’t be a board member (since the board decides who the winner is).
  • should ideally be attending GUADEC to receive the award in person.

The award can be for any work on GNOME – documents, design, translation, marketing, sysadmin, code, bug triaging… anything! Last year’s winner, Marina Zhurakhinskaya, won primarily for her amazing work on outreach.

Got someone in mind? Go ahead and email board-list@gnome.org to let the board know!

Do you want GUADEC in your city?

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We just published the call for bids for GUADEC 2015. It’s a lot of work to host GUADEC but also really fun, and you can show off where you live! The announcement links to a How To for writing the bid, which I really recommend. Kat’s been going through some of the old bids and updating it, which I think has been really useful. The board is plannng to talk to bidders at GUADEC so you need to let us know by August 1 if you’re planning on throwing your city in the ring. You won’t have to send the final bit until the end of September so there’s plenty of time to work out the details. Because we now plan GUADEC two years in advance it’s potentially easier to plan on a lower key basis (theoretically!).

Thinking of submitting but not sure? Feel free to chat with me about it. As we approach my second GUADEC I finally feel like I’m starting to get a handle on what’s involved.

And of course, many thanks to this year’s organizing team. Please buy them a drink in Brno – they deserve it for all of their hard work!

Laptop donations

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We announced yesterday that GNOME received generous donations of high-definition display laptops, which we’ll distribute on a rolling basis to GNOME contributors. This is an exciting development as it provides an opportunity to get GNOME more functional on newer equipment and to improve touch screen support.

We got one laptop from Brion Vibber and five more from Intel. It took us some time to coordinate the delivery of the laptops, but Matthias Clasen stepped up to the task and has volunteered to keep them rotating around. The initial holders are Jon McCann (US), Jasper St. Pierre (US), David King (UK), Allan Day (UK), Carlos Garnacho (Netherlands), Jakub Steiner (Czech Republic) and Alexander Larsson (Sweden).

Check out the work that Alexander Larsson has already done!

There’s a short waiting list for the next crack at this hardware – if you have some work you’d like to do to improve GNOME, let me or Matthias know. And thanks to Brion and Intel!

Here’s Allan Day’s excellent picture of one of the machines in action…

Looking good!

Looking good!

A small step for the FDA

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Many of you have seen my talk about medical devices and general software safety. In fact, I’m up in the Boston area, having given a similar talk yesterday at the Women’s Leadership Community Luncheon alongside the Red Hat Summit. Well, I seem to have gotten through, at least a little! While I was giving the talk yesterday, the FDA finally admitted that there is a big problem. In their Safety Communication, the FDA says that medical devices can be vulnerable to attack. They recommend that manufacturers assure that appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent security attacks on devices, though they do not recommend how this should be accomplished. They say:

The extent to which security controls are needed will depend on the medical device, its environment of use, the type and probability of the risks to which it is exposed, and the probable risks to patients from a security breach.

As I’ve been saying for a few years and as you can see in the paper I wrote when I was at the Software Freedom Law Center, software is more secure when the code is published for review by all. Allowing device manufacturers to keep their source code proprietary prevents us from developing the societal mechanisms and review that will truly keep us safe. As a patient and as a software expert, I applaud the FDA for taking this step, and I hope they will make a real strike for safety by at least encouraging if not requiring these companies to publish their code.

Long overdue report of the GNOME.Asia Summit 2013!

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It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, starting wtih the excellent GNOME.Asia Summit in Seoul, from which I went to LinuxCon Japan in Tokyo, then back to NY for the GNOME marketing team hackfest. I took two overdue days off for my uncle’s 80th birthday celebration in Florida and I’m finally back in NY for a normal day, at least before I head off to Boston for the Red Hat Summit this week. I’m speaking at the Women’s Leadership Luncheon, which is a big honor. So I’m behind on letting you know about things, but my time has been jam packed with travel, conferences and meetings. Anyway, to flash back to the GNOME.Asia Summit…

After helping with the organization of last year’s GNOME.Asia Summit from afar, I was extremely excited to attend this time. Upon arriving at the GNOME.Asia Summit, the local team kicked things off strong! Max and Haggen gave great introductions to the event, including a stirring intro video which woke everyone up, and another video from last year’s summit showing the attendees saying why and how they use GNOME and how much they love it. I really hope we can post that somewhere on the GNOME website. The organization of this conference has been great – the banners alone were very impressive. The team also put together a cool poster of sponsors logos to take pictures in front of that felt like a red carpet poster (though maybe that was due to the red rug they put in front of it). Simon and the rest of the Korean team deserve some serious thanks for all of their hard work.

I felt lucky to be able to deliver the keynote on the first the morning but the real highlight for me was getting to meet GNOME contributors who are Asia based. I was particularly excited to meet Max, who has worked so hard this year and last. Haggen and Simon too! (and I everyone else who I saw every week at the IRC meetings!) I enjoyed meeting Yu in person and hearing her talk about getting involved in GNOME with OPW, and to talk with everyone about the challenges of bringing GNOME to different Asia-based countries.

I learned about Seafile, a free software DropBox competitor, as well as a few other things that were new to me, like Ezilla. Lennart’s talk about applications development for GNOME was also a highlight.

I had the honor of signing certificates for those who completed the training sessions (which were on getting started on translations and also one on extensions).

I should also mention that I very much enjoyed Allan’s keynote. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on GNOME 3, and I actually hadn’t heard some of the stories about how GNOME 3 came about. I also had a few ideas about GNOME marketing from listening to him talk which were useful for the marketing hackfest, which I will discuss in another blogpost!

Last but not least, many thanks to our sponsors and partners: NIPA, Google, LG, Lemote, OnOffMix, Open Technet, LinuxPilot

Don’t forget to submit your GUADEC talk!

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You’ve got until Saturday (that’s tomorrow for many of you!) to submit your talks for GUADEC. I think It looks like it’s going to be really great this year. We’re in the process of confirming our first keynote speaker, which I can’t wait to announce! Plus, so much has been happening in the GNOME world – there’s sure to be a lot of great conversation. The GUADEC organizers have been hard at work and the conference is shaping up nicely!

On a personal note, I’ve never been to the Czech Republic and I’m so excited to go!I can’t wait to see you all there in person (and happy that this year i can drink with you!)

Say a kind word!

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I’ve been remiss about posting on my keynote at LibrePlanet last month, and have since given two other talks and moderated one panel. And tomorrow I’m on a panel at FCX2013.

LibrePlanet is a really fun conference, as it’s full of people who understand the importance of software freedom and the ideology behind it. As a result, it was so great to tailor my talk for the occasion. I wanted to mention this here, as there was one take away that I tried to impart in addition to celebrating the ideology of freedom and how it helps create better software for a better world – and that is to say a kind word. In the free software world, we are spoiled for choice, and if there’s something you don’t quite like you can always fork the code that’s out there and make it what you want. But despite the fact that there’s no reason to stay with any software you don’t like, not to mention all of our emphasis on community our collaborative outlook, we tend not to talk positively about software that we really like. We instead focus on the bugs and features we wish were included. Tons of people have commented to me about how much they like GNOME 3, for example, but the most visible press out there was negative. I encouraged the audience at LibrePlanet to say a kind word about the software that they use and like (and especially GNOME!) and I hope you will too.

In that vein, I personally have greatly appreciated how good Shotwell, the photo management software written by the nice people at Yorba, is. They’re running a campaign to work on another project – an email client called Geary. While I’m happy with Evolution, I just donated to Yorba to let them know how much I appreciate their awesome software and their hard work. Please donate to Yorba’s campaign and ask others who appreciate Shotwell to do the same. There are only 5 days left, but I still hope they can make their goal!

GNOME 3.8 released!!!

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Six months of hard work have paid off – the GNOME community has released GNOME 3.8!

Check out the release notes and the press release which has some great quotes from our partners.

Kudos to the release team, the marketing team and every other GNOME team. This is the best release yet!

The good press has already started to roll in.

I have some thoughts about the new release in light of my experience at LibrePlanet over the weekend that I hope to publish soon but I wanted to just get the congratulations out there. Great work everybody!

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