GNOME Developer Training in danger

gnome, guadec, work 14 Comments

The take-up on the GNOME Developer Training sessions at GUADEC (pdf brochure) has been below expectations. Without going into the details, we’re in a situation where running the training would cost the foundation and the organisers more money than canceling.

If we have not had a number of people sign up for the training by Wednesday evening, we will unfortunately be in the situation where we will have to cancel the session. The GUADEC organisers sign the final contracts with the university for room reservations on July 1st, and that will increase our costs substantially, so that is our deadline for viability.

I hesitated for a long time before writing this blog. It’s never nice to have to admit that something you thought was a good idea, that you put together and made a reality, might not work out.

Many people have, over the years, said that the lack of training options was a major flaw with GNOME. With this training offering, we gave people what they were asking for, with a two day training course plus the flagship GNOME conference for less than you would pay to attend another technical conference. If we cancel this training session, there will likely not be another. The credibility of the foundation (and, I suppose, my credibility) will take a hit.

I decided to let people know in advance that the session is likely to be canceled, to have a chance to stop that from happening. I have confidence that the GNOME community can come to the rescue here, in some sense.

I am sure that there is interest out there. Perhaps people have not yet gotten budget commitments to send developers along, but that they’re still working on it. Perhaps there are people who really should know about the training who don’t yet, because I haven’t managed to get in touch with them. Perhaps a couple of people were planning on signing up, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

If you are in one of these categories, please get in contact with me soon. If you know someone who would benefit from the training, please let them know, and point them to the brochure and web page. If I have a relatively small number of commitments to attend by Thursday, the training will go ahead.

Thanks everyone for your help and support – I will keep you posted to any new developments.

links for 2010-06-18

331 Comments Off on links for 2010-06-18

Sabotage and free software

community, freesoftware, General, humour, maemo 4 Comments

Who knew that educating people in simple sabotage (defined as sabotage not requiring in-depth training or materials) could have so much in common with communicating free software values? I read the OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual (pdf) which has been doing the rounds of management and security blogs recently, and one article on “motivating saboteurs” caught my eye enough to share:

Personal Motives

  • The ordinary citizen very probably has no immediate personal motive for committing simple sabotage. Instead, he must be made to anticipate indirect personal gain, such as might come with enemy evacuation or destruction of the ruling gov­ernment group. Gains should be stated as specifically as possible for the area addressed: simple sabotage will hasten the day when Commissioner X and his deputies Y and Z will be thrown out, when particu­larly obnoxious decrees and restrictions will be abolished, when food will arrive, and so on. Abstract verbalizations about personal liberty, freedom of the press, and so on, will not be convincing in most parts of the world. In many areas they will not even be comprehensible.
  • Since the effect of his own acts is limited, the saboteur may become discouraged unless he feels that he is a member of a large, though unseen, group of saboteurs operating against the enemy or the government of his own country and elsewhere. This can be conveyed indirectly: suggestions which he reads and hears can include observations that a particular technique has been successful in this or that district. Even if the technique is not applicable to his surroundings, another’s success will encourage him to attempt similar acts. It also can be conveyed directly: statements praising the effectiveness of simple sabotage can be contrived which will be pub­lished by white radio, freedom stations, and the sub­versive press. Estimates of the proportion of the population engaged in sabotage can be disseminated. Instances of successful sabotage already are being broadcast by white radio and freedom stations, and this should be continued and expanded where com­patible with security.
  • More important than (a) or (b) would be to create a situation in which the citizen-saboteur acquires a sense of responsibility and begins to educate others in simple sabotage.

Now doesn’t that sound familiar? Trying to convince people that free software is good for them because of the freedom doesn’t work directly – you need to tie the values of that freedom to something which is useful to them on a personal level.

“You get security fixes better because people can read the code”, “You have a wide range of support options for Linux because it’s free software and anyone can understand it”, “Sun may have been bought by Oracle, but you can continue to use the same products because anyone can modify the code, so others have taken up the maintenance, support and development burden”, and so on.

Providing (custom tailored) concrete benefits, which comes from freedom is the way to motivate people to value that freedom.

In addition, the point on motivation struck a cord – you need to make people feel like they belong, that their work means something, that they’re not alone and their effort counts, or they will become discouraged. A major job in any project is to make everyone feel like they’re driving towards a goal they have personally bought into.

Finally, you will only have succeeded when you have sufficiently empowered a saboteur to the point where they become an advocate themselves, and start training others in the fine arts – and this is a major challenge for free software projects too, where we often see people with willingness to do stuff, and have some difficulty getting them to the point where they have assimilated the project culture and are recruiting and empowering new contributors.

For those who haven’t read it yet, the document is well worth a look, especially the section on “General Interference with Organisations and Production”, which reads like a litany of common anti-patterns present in most large organisations; and if you never knew how to start a fire in a warehouse using a slow fuse made out of rope and grease, here’s your chance to find out.

Last chance for early bird rate for GNOME training

General Comments Off on Last chance for early bird rate for GNOME training

Registration for the GNOME Developer Training courses at GUADEC is still open on the GUADEC registration site – and the early bird rate of €1200 is available for all orders received until next Tuesday June 15th. So if you’ve been hesitating or delaying signing up, the time is now!

As a reminder of what’s included in the package, you will get lunch and refreshments both days of the training course, a full professional registration to GUADEC worth €250, and printed materials related to the course to take home with you and spread the knowledge, and two full days of intense Lunix development training with a focus on GNOME. There are four half-day modules, covering Linux development, testing and debugging tools, the social side of contributing to free software projects, an overview of the GNOME and platform and a hands-on workshop where you get to put what you learn into practice.

this will be a great opportunity to give a boost to your entire team by learning developer tips & tricks on being a productive Linux developer, learning tools and tips to improve performance and memory usage of your applications, and how to get your code upstream more efficiently & reduce maintenance costs.

Registration is open, and we still have a few places left!