All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary

April 17th, 2014 by sri

A bit of Rush lyrics:

“All I know is that sometimes you have to wary - ’cause sometimes the target is you”

My only editorial on the run of public scrutiny on the GNOME Foundation.

I’ve had the great opportunity to engage with the community these past couple of days.  Once we got past the concerns of the financial health of the GNOME Foundation, discussions focused to the GNOME’s support of the OPW program.  It’s easy to dismiss these interactions as misogyny and I tried not to fall into the trap because if you do you’re missing out on the opportunity to listen.  I was listening even while defending OPW.

There is a lot of resentment towards outreach programs like OPW that target a specific demographic and that it is a sexist program because it focuses on giving internships to one gender at the expense of the other.  I think it is a mistake to think this way. That’s not the point of OPW.   OPW is an incentive based program, and the idea is that we pay for a highly motivated and talented individuals who are capable of doing the work we want them to do while at the same time add their collective experience and perspective to the organization.  With a little luck, they might like the environment they work and will want to continue on.  What is the benefit of adding women to what has culturally been a male dominated environment?  An increase in openness.  Adding people who are different than you ultimately changes the culture of the organization you’re participating in.  It’s that cultural change that we want.  By accommodating woman we add the sum of their experiences to the collective whole.  The act of valuing and understanding that experience makes us more open.  Some may mourn the loss of male comraderie by adding women, but they would miss out on something wonderful and unique.  It isn’t a loss, it’s a transition.

When an organization participates in OPW, we hope that it is because they honestly believe that they want the change the culture of their organization and become more open and more welcoming.  OPW’s effect on the GNOME Project has been quite profound.  We’ve come a long way from when Telsa Gwynne left the project due to the attitudes of the GNOME developers.  It was one of the few times that really disapointed me about GNOME.  A Free Software conference like GUADEC with about 20% women participation is a great accomplishment.  We need to continue working on retention rates and improving them and continue to give challenging projects to not just our OPW students, past and present but to everyone who wants to volunteer and support GNOME with their time, experience, and expertise.  Those who were OPW students, we hope will come back and help mentor both men and women and create the model for other organizations to follow.

In my discussions, both recently and in the past several folks have remarked on some organizations and conferences that try to support women by holding women only events or workshops at conferences and other gatherings.  OPW’s strength is that the program brings in women to the organization.  It however does not encourage further subdivision by creating women only events within the GNOME project but encourages interaction as equals.  If you are an organization that organizes such events then I implore you to choose a different path.  It isn’t diversity if you create women only events and likely leads to resentment by men.  I remember in one discussion, a man was eager to attend a workshop on Android development that looked really interesting and was crushed to find that the event was women only.  If organizers feel that women are uncomfortable enough that they need women only events to interact within the organization, then something has gone wrong.  At GUADEC, there was a BOF I think on OPW, it was attended by all women, until they realized that there were no men attending.  They went out and found asked men to join the discussion.  I was one of those men, and it turned into a very active and spirited discussion because each gender brought their own experience to the discussion making the feedback that much more valuable.  It was a lot of fun.

My last comment is that programs like OPW should never be used in perpuity.  At some point, you need some clear indicators that you’ve changed the culture for the better and that it is sustaining.  High retention rates, collegial interactions, and the organization is attracting women without the need of the program are good indications that you participating in OPW has been a success and you should declare victory!

In closing, there have been many comments that can be construed as misogyny, but we should be patient and prove that programs like OPW are worth having and worth supporting even if we get into trouble from time to time doing it.

Thanks for reading.

* My comments are my own, and I take responsiblity for them and no one else.  Just taking in the spirit of the Rush lyrics mentioned above. :D

Musings on the West Coast Hackfest

April 12th, 2014 by sri

The idea of a west coast hackfest came out of a failed attempt to have the Montréal/Boston Summit in Portland.  Initially, we had decided to have it in Portland, but due to timing and the lack of availability of a decent venue made things harder.

When Endless Mobile offered their office as a venue, we moved the event to San Francisco and then made it the week before the Red Hat Summit allowing most of the Red Hat crowd to show up.  With Tiffany Yau, Christian Hegert it was such a pleasure to put together this hackfest and make it a reality from conception to implementation.  I think we all had a great time and we were able to move the platform forward.

One thing we wanted to do different from the other hackfest and GUADEC is to turn this into something more public facing.  We want to be more inclusive and invite the general public, invite potential parterns and customers.  I wasn’t quite successful in this.  I came into the realization that to build the brand amongst startups and potential partners, we would have to build up a contact list, a rolodex that we should have a continuous contact with in order to really be able to have the ability to bring people to events.  So one task is to start building up that contact list, and start working on making connections so that we can start making the next hackfesst and hopefully a sister conference that is more outward facing so ewe can expose the project to those who actually use our software.

My failure to bring in externals wasn’t a complete failiure, we did have great participation from Yorba and ElementaryOS.  In fact, their input was very valuable in identifying barriers of working on GNOME software and working with the community.  As Matthias mentioned in his blog, working with Daniel Foré we were able to help solve some of their issues as well possibly solving some of us are.  We look forward to working more with Elementary OS in the future.  I have encouraged the Elementary OS community to present at GUADEC and be part of our community.  I have plans to extend this to other GTK+ based desktops like XFCE and Numix.  There is a recognition that our diversity is our strength and we should be more aggressive about reaching out.  Particularly, Elemntary OS seem to have a similar goals as us minus the shell and several of us have remarked how beautiful the desktop looks.  Morever, they are a complete OS from top to bottom.  Wehile we’ve talked about GNOME OS, Elementary OS is already there.

We made a great impression on the Endless Mobile folks, who all told me how excited they were to have all of us there and as one person said “I can finally get my GTK+ patch accepted!”  Lots of discussions with everyone there and of course again, so nice of them to offer their space and their hospitality.  Big thanks to Nuritzi Sanchez and Matt Dalio for making us feel welcome and providing us witih gift bags with chocolates, energy drinks and trinkets!

Germán Poo-Caamaño and I had a hangout with Diego who was unable to come but we all talked about our website and hopefully being able to better capture our mission better than the current iteration.  We will continue that discussion with the engagement team and find better ways to attract people.  After all, if you’re going to work out a method to reach out to someone, you will also need to have the infrastructure for them to be actual useful.

The events were a big hit.  Huge thanks to Christian Hergert for setting up the community dinner.  Big thanks to Tiffany for setting up visiting Noisebridge and the event at Zeitgeist.  Cosimo also gets thanks for buying the first round! :-) The noisebridge event was a lot of fun, and great exposure to the maker community.  We share a lot of values, and I had some great discussions with the people there.  It does underscore that the fact that we really need a nice way to setup GNOME with all the development tools.  Colin Walters actually had some nice thought about this in regards to GNOME Continuous.  We should be able to have our cake and eat it too!

Overall, it’s been a great experience.  I think everyone feels they would like to do this again.  We are already working on planning for next year, but this time with a goal to be fully sponsored, better representation, and hopefully events that we can meet the people who want or use our software.

Of course, the biggest thanks goes to everyone who attended and took the trouble to come al the way out there and hack on GNOME!  Thank all of you!

 

Hello from SXSW!

March 7th, 2014 by sri

Greetings from Austin, TX! I’m here as part of an effort to reach out in venues that are not typically Free Software aware and bring awareness of Free Software and our mission to SXSW. In addition, we will also reach out to other communities and learn from them on how they they manage communities. This includes how the manage social media which is an important aspect of engagement.

To learn about SXSW – feel free to browse http://www.sxsw.org/

The plan is to get GNOME out there to attendees, we have an event on Saturday, thanks to the fabulous Tiffany Yau who has been working as our volunteer event planner. We have an event located near the Austin convention center on Saturday. I hope to take pictures and put some on the blog. While I only have a day pass for Friday, I plan to be active on Saturday hopefully talking to people in the periphery about GNOME, about Free Software and getting the word out. We weren’t able to get our USB sticks, but no matter, we plan on printing fliers and the like that we can give out. Focusing mostly on the OPW program in this time frame.

The OPW program is one our strongest strengths and shows GNOME’s commitment to diversity and is another aspect of how much GNOME is a trailblazer. We hope to communicate that this weekend.

I would like to thank the GNOME Foundation for funding this trip and accommodation of which my presence at this conference would not be possible!

Strip the Soul

January 1st, 2014 by sri

We come to close of another year.  I thought I would report out on our out reach process.  By outreach, I mean the overall perception of the GNOME project by outside community.

I wanted to write this post earlier, but unfortunately, we’ve had a death in our family and  I was not able not able to really think about writing that post.  I feel that this post is important and so I’m taking the time to write this down.

Overall, we’ve made some great improvements in perception from the beginning of the year.  The 3.8 and 3.10 releases have been very successful and people have really appreciated the polish that have gone into these releases.  So, congratulations to all of you for all the great work contributors in GNOME have done this year!  As we look forward, I would like to summarize some of my perceptions from working with the FOSS community.

One of the things I want to highlight is that active participation in the community gets us great dividends as a project.  Thanks to creating community channels, core members participating in G+ communities, and twitter we have really stayed engaged!  Because of this engagement, perception of our project have become extremely positive from what it was last year.  As some of you know, I spend an inordinate amount of time arguing on GNOME’s behalf on the Internet.  I am happy to note that my job has become a lot easier with many people in the community who stand up and declare that they love GNOME 3,and willing to challenge others in the various forums.  Considering the huge backlash that we’ve had the past couple of years, I know that for a lot of people it has been a source of stop energy.  We spent the entire time at the GUADEC foundation meeting focused on this.   I am happy to note that we are seeing some great positive changes!

We have turned the corner and it’s thanks to all of you for being available, for answering questions.  Specifically, I would like to thank Allan Day, Ray Strode, Emmanuele Bassi, Matthias Clasen, and Jasper St. Pierre for always being available to respond to summons when I needed them.  Certainly for humoring me to be sure! :-)  My job has become a lot easier and participating in threads in http://reddit.com/r/gnome and http://reddit.com/r/linux are a lot easier as others have taken up the reins.  I know personally it has been gratifying to see the positive responses from the community after years of head butting and sometimes feeling the only person out there being positive.  Heck, even in Slashdot, we’ve seen some push back.  Thanks to all you in the community who do like GNOME 3, and are willing to say so.  It makes working on software so much more worthwhile!

It’s time to build on that success though.  We need to continue to open ourselves up and continue to build our community.  While I have been an advocate for GNOME to the community, I must also in turn become an advocate for the community in GNOME.  It’s up to the project to look at this feedback and respond appropriately.

Some issues worth addressing:

  1. Changes to Nautilus have been met with universal unhappiness – the changes that have been made have made a lot of people unhappy.  There just hasn’t been anybody I’ve met both who are fans of GNOME 3 and critics alike who like what the current nautilus have become.  People have either been silent or have encouraged the use of the 3.6 fork of Nautilus.  There are some reasons for it, things like  improvements have been promised but have not been forthcoming fast enough.   Secondly, the loss of being able to split the screen and be able to manage files have angered many.  The work around of having two nautilus windows and managing that way has not assuaged people.  They really miss this feature.   I’ve had a hard time arguing this as, I personally do not use nautilus to manage files.
  2. People have really been down on GNOME designers.  While they have made some great community outreach, specifically Allen Day and Jakub Steiner have always been available to talk about their designs.  Regardless, there is always this sense that whatever feedback is given will be ignored that everything is inevitable.  Even when asking module owners, they , to use an American idiom “pass the buck” and say, “ask the designers”.  Intriguing, is it not? :-)  In normal, free software, the maintainer of a project has the final say, but not necessarily in GNOME.  That puts significant pressure on designers.  What is the balance in working with community, but also have the time and motivation to work on designs in progress?  That is a hard challenge and I do not envy our GNOME designers their position as they must provide results and if you have to manage the community as well?.  As community, we should understand that some unknown, possibly significant work has now been shunted through three individuals.  I don’t know if that is particularly a good thing, certainly it is a stressful situation if you’re responsible for designing an entire eco-system.  I am not proposing a solution, I’m highlighting what I feel is a problem and a possible single point of failure.  Designers need to spend some small part of their time in public space.  Because like it or not, they are providing user experience of GNOME these days, and just about everyone else have faded in the background, proverbial noise.  Why?  Because it is strongly perceived that nothing can be changed without designers driving it.  I have some ideas.  I’ll discuss in another post.
  3. The community does not understand design.  This links to #2.  When you’re designing software, a lot of things depend on each other.  If you change something, it has ramifications to the entire design.  I don’t think users understand that.  When designers ask for feedback there is no agreed upon specific way to provide it.  Since users don’t understand that changing one aspect has ramifications elsewhere, it’s not that easy to revert something that is already planned out, so when people complain about regressions they don’t understand the context why those regressions occurred in the first place and reverting it back to the old behavior has consequences.   It would be good to know what manner of feedback will get a design a second look.  What would that feedback entail?  What is the contract with the community for design changes, if any?  We are in uncharted waters when it comes to this and if we are going to do design out in the public space and use our community as guinea pigs to a continually evolving set of designs then it is paramount that we create tools that will provide the right feedback.
  4. It’s very important that we are up front on regressions.  The gnome-terminal incident is a good example of this.  There is no doubt that transparency is a popular feature in terminals.  One could argue that they don’t contribute particularly to being useful, they do provide a kind of eye candy that  attracts the eye, like a bright paper to a magpie.  It’s not good when a feature that is used and is quite popular is taken away in a midst of a code clean up and we are ignorant of it.  I will ask module maintainers to be upfront to the release team when there is a significant regression like this.  In turn, release team needs to tell  the engagement team as well so that we are also ready to talk about it when it comes up.  Bad news travels, with social media it travels even faster and it takes on a life of its own.  Don’t keep the engagement team in the dark.  Be up front.  We have a reputation and branding that needs continual care and feeding.  We need to be always aware that any incident can last for days, weeks, years, or decades and can be very intense.  Let’s not put the engagement team into firefighting mode needlessly.  I have some ideas to mitigate some of this as well.

The conclusion is, we are creating a product.  But we need to act like we are creating a product.   That will require closer teamwork between the various teams that we have before.  I’ll talk about this in another post.  But we don’t have everything set up for that.  We have gaps, and they should be addressed.

Like the Holidays, I provided a little sweet  and a little spice!

I would like to wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!  Thank you for all your hard work in GNOME this year.  To the folks using our software, I would like to wish you as well and that you will continue to love and trust where we are doing and where we are going even if you have minor disagreements in how we go about it.

Lost in the skies, clouds roll by and I roll with them

July 6th, 2013 by sri

After a 6 year hiatus, I have finally booked tickets to Brno to attend my first GUADEC after such a long time.  I’d like to think that I have grown wiser, but I really just got older and I’m just as stupid.

My triumphant return of course means that I will be preying on all my favorite people, you know who you are.  I got older, but I haven’t lost the hyperkinetic energy from last time!  I got all MANNER of fun stuff to discuss this time around.  People to see, things to do, places to go, arguments to start, beer to drink, dolls to dress up.. er wait.. maybe not the last one, that’s kind of private… but but.. ENTHUSIASM!

But this time kids, let’s not have any pictures of me on the Internet .  It took 5 years for the Google to remove Ross Burton’s pic of me from the last GUADEC as the top hit under my name.  I mean honestly, folks, that pic sucked.  I’m supposed to be all proper and respectable.  But DO, do..do do do, post pictures of the fun times you are having on blogs.gnome.org so that the portion of the world who aren’t part of your twiter feed, your facebook, google+ and so forth can join in the spectacle that is GUADEC and you!  Just leave me out of it!

Also, attend my talk, it’s going to be way more interesting that Poettering kid’s talk.  Applications sandboxing?  Pfft.  Who cares about all that mumbo jumbo!  Apps aren’t important!  I am!  Besides, it’s not going to family friendly.  It’s Lennart Poettering!  You would much rather come to my talk.  We can gossip about kernel developers!  Did you know that Linus and I share the same house inspector?!  No kidding!  It’s like we share the same monkey that looks for lice in our hair!  Lice free since 2007!

One last postscript, remember, folks when you set up your google+ profile, make sure under “bragging rights” you put in “I know Andy Wingo”  The number of folks who’ve added me  when from 500 to 3000!  Do it!  You’ll be glad you did!

See ya at GUADEC!

 

The Creator has a Mastertape

January 7th, 2013 by sri

Another year has gone by and it is yet again another year I promised to blog and didn’t.  With social networking its hard to bother.  Besides, you always feel that if you’re going to post to planet that it should be something insightful.

Anyways, this post is about recognizing people in the community who have worked hard in the background in support of all our releases in 2012 and in community outreach.  The list is of my own compiling and mostly consists of people involved in marketing and sysadmin.  It’s my hope that others will also step up and recognize people for the great work they’ve been doing in their own areas.

So onwards.. here is my list of awesome from the list of the awesomest!  I’ll attempt to write a little something about that person so it’s not just a static list.

Karen Sandler – Karen has been such the hanger that we put our clothes on.  Without it, things just drop.  (yeah, crazy metaphor huh? :-)  Karen has been helping fundraise, leading the efforts on Friends of GNOME, and communicating with our board of advisors and generally the person we all like to talk to if we’re frustrated or have some anecdote we want to share.

Emily Gonyer – there are few who have that kind of passion in GNOMEt that Emily has.  She started as a GSOC candidate and has stayed on and continues to be very much involved in the marketing team.  She’s been involved in community outreach and getting the forums started and is an outspoken critic in the true open source fashion.  Emily also worked on the quarterly reports and has gone to GUADEC and FOSDEM.

Marina Zhurakhinskaya – Marina has been managing the GSOC and this year she has been able to expand GSOC to several other projects.  Marina is responsible for wonderful diversity that we have in GNOME.  Setting the standard that other open source projects should compare themselves against.  The fact I get to put so many women on this list is a testament to her time and investment into this project.  You rock!

Christy Eller – Christy spent her GSOC project helping us put out a new friends of gnome pages and a news.gnome.org site redesign.  There has never been such a rapid and focused development on a web project.  We joke about how long it’s taken us to do a new gnome.org.  We had more things accomplished in that short time than I’ve ever seen in the history of GNOME.

Andrea Veri – Andrea started working as a part time sysadmin this year.  If Christy was successful with web it was because Andrea was there supporting her and the rest of us.  Andrea has been doing most of the sysadmin’ing for GNOME this past year and doing it with enthusiasm.  We are fortunate to have such a dedicated person helping us.

Allan Day -He’s everyone’s mentor.  He helps us understand the various designs that GNOME is working on.  Help us gets our messaging together.  Helps figure out how to react to various criticisms that are happening in the community.  He’s been put through the emotional wringer with all the various criticisms that we face from our community.   The marketing team is in his debt almost daily with his advice and commentary.  Thanks Allan!

Sebastian Keller  – Known as ‘borschty’ on IRC, Sebastian has spent a lot of his free time hanging out in #gnome on freenode and gimpnet answering questions and providing most of our visible support on IRC.  It always amazing when people are willing to spend their time that way and helping out especially answering questions which as a lot of people can tell you takes a lot of patience.  Sebastian also is one of two ops persons for #gnome as well.

Juha Sahakangas – Known as ‘Juhaz’ on IRC, Juha is the other person who spends a lot his time answering questions on #gnome on freenode.  Again, a big thanks to him for both answering the questions and administrating the channel.  It’s because of him and Sebastian that we have the visibility on freenode that we have.

If I missed you, it’s because I haven’t learned too much of what you’ve been doing.  If you think I’ve missed someone then please write a blog post and tell us your heroes that deserve to be recognized for the year s that all of us know what they have done.  These are just my personal ones.

Best wishes to the GNOME community and hope for a prosperous New Year! :-)

 

 

The Coefficient Of The Linear Is Juxtaposition By The Hemoglobin Of The Atomospheric Pressure In The Country

April 30th, 2011 by sri

Hello! Hello Again! I’m out here attending Northwest Linuxfest! Doing a presentation on GNOME 3.. probably one of the first ones post release. I’ll blog about the experience. If any of you are attending Northwest Linuxfest, look me up! We’ll chat about whatever!

Misc stuff:

Congratulations to Ubuntu on the release of Natty Narwhal with the new Unity shell!

It feels wierd not to be running Ubuntu on my main machine, my laptop. With Ubuntu moving to Unity as their main UI, I was forced to move to Fedora 15 in order to get my GNOME 3 experience. Fedora is a great distro, with great support, and even more awesome people But I really mess debian packaging. Yum gets on my nerves. This is my first rpm based distro since RH 7.3!

My desktop machine at home is in a wierd state with Unity broken, gnome 3 not quite working.. logging in gives me the GNOME 2 experience which is also hard since I keep wanting to filck my pointer to the left top hotspot to get to the menu and wondering why it is not working. *face palm*

In any case.. maybe when Ubuntu has full support for GNOME 3 I might move back.. but for now, I’m a Fedora guy!

The Start of Something Beautiful

April 6th, 2011 by sri

Congratulations to everyone who help make this release a success. Translators, designers, hackers, distributors and of course the marketing and gnome journal teams, my comrades in arms in running around getting GNOME 3 promoted.

I need to call out the webhackers who worked on the website. We started planning for a new website in 2006. We never thought that thing would be finished, but you guys pulled it out and face lifted all the other websites. Thank you guys for all the hard work you put into it. It is great!

Also thanks to the sysadmin team for all the support. A good sysadmin team works hand and glove with the community and you guys our outstanding!

Finally, thanks to all the people supporting our release with your positive comments! Thanks all of you!

I am GNOME

Did imagine the final sound was a gun?

March 9th, 2011 by sri

I managed to not blog the entire year of 2010. Despite being active in GNOME, I don’t blog much. I intend to discipline myself and blog a little more often to at least support my favorite desktop!

So what have I been doing the past year? Mostly, personal stuff, I’ve been steadily been drifting away from doing any work in GNOME and was spending most of my time snarking around IRC and even that tapered off. I’ve had some interesting times, my grandfather turned 100 years old, and then 5 months later passed away. 100 years old. Flawless victory.

Anyways enough about me. How are you? Maybe I shouldn’t be asking the Internets that. That’s how reddit and digg started!

These days, working on helping out with the marketing and gnome-journal projects. Doing some press work and of course dogfooding GNOME 3 every day. I use GNOME 3 every day on my work laptop and I can honestly say that after using it now full time for the past 2 weeks that I’m having a hard time going back to GNOME 2. Sure there are some quirks to the design that I have to adjust my work pattern to but overall a positive experience! I enjoy the task centered workspaces that GNOME 3 has that lets me focus on the tasks on hand. As a sysadmin, I’m always doing a lot of tasks that I need to keep track of.

Most people should understand that when GNOME 3 is released that this is only the beginning of an iterative evolutionary process. It’s hard to strike out on our own and try to build a new user experience that distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack. I notice that we have a number of disgruntled people who like the old method of doing things. Understandable. But we can’t just stick to status quo especially if we want to challenge the big boys. I’m hoping that this is a start of something new. Is what we doing spectacularly different? I don’t think so. I found myself doing the same thing I was doing on the shell on my new android phone moving from screen to screen using the built in expose feature of the phone. It is a starting point of sorts. I’m interested in seeing where we go from here.

A long time ago, we took the risk of breaking with tradition and working on a desktop that anybody can use on top of a Unix like operating system. I think largely we’ve succeeded. We’re going to do it again and it’s going to be exciting! I’ll blog more later about some of the things that we’ve managed to do thus far.

Iran and the elections aftermath

June 15th, 2009 by sri

I wanted to express my best wishes and hope for the safety of those
who are in danger.

Especially to the GNOME Farsi community in Iran, we are all hoping for your
continued safety during this upheaval. Please be safe.

re:Twitter -
The wonderful thing about twitter is that they can communicate their
stories and experience in such a profound way. I find myself glued
to the screen to see how things are unfolding in Iran. I’ve been
following the news on Andrew Sullivan’s blog site which gives up
to date information of what is happening in Iran.

edit: fixed broken link.