Off to UDS

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Tomorrow I head to Orlando for the Ubuntu Developer Summit. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends and also hoping to learn more about the Ubuntu Community. Let me know if you’re going to be there and would like talk about GNOME-centric things!

Also, don’t forget – tomorrow’s the deadline for both the GNOME Outreach Program for Women and also to add tasks for the Google Code-in (training and UI are the areas we need the most – thanks, Kat, for pointing that out).

Tasks for Google Code-in

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André Klapper has been emailing about the Google Code-in, a program in some ways like Google Summer of Code but for 13-17 year old high school students.

GNOME participated last year, and we have just until the end of the month (4 days!) to have the minimum number of tasks required to participate. Please check out the wiki page and add tasks! There’s a handy tutorial on How to Write a Good Task, which is a good place to get started. Unlike GSoC, the Google Code-in is focused on smaller tasks that take just a few days. It’s a really great program in that it targets younger students and gives them clear “bite sized” tasks to get involved and accomplish something significant in a short period of time. According to Google, last year over 2,000 tasks were completed by more than 360 pre-university students from 48 countries. In addition, last year’s top participants were recognized by Google and flown to California with a parent or guardian to meet Google’s engineers.

Let’s get tasks added so that GNOME can be accepted to the program!

Also read Johannes Schmid’s blog about it, and André’s original email.

I’m off to #marketing and #guadec to brainstorm tasks for the outreach/marketing category!

Some things I’ve been up to recently

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It’s been an extremely busy past two weeks! Of course, I went to the Montreal Summit, which was the highlight, but there are a few other things that are probably worth mentioning here:

  • I finalized my plans and arranged my travel for UDS later this month. Seeing the list of attendees set to go, I’m really looking forward to it!
  • I talked to Christer about the current state of the sysadmin work, and he’s put up a wiki page to track the sysadmin team’s progress on migration to the new server
  • I worked on various press things, including lining up a couple of interviews.
  • I chased up some old unpaid invoices and took care of some paperwork
  • I researched some legal questions for GNOME – you’d be surprised at how much of this stuff comes up for every free software nonprofit! I’ll keep you posted as they get resolved.
  • I looked at some of the awesome applications Marina has been collecting for the Women’s Outreach Program – there’s still time if you’re interested in applying!
  • I did some pro bono work for SFLC and QCO in my free time

Montreal Summit report

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The Montreal Summit turned out to be a very fun and productive gathering last weekend. With the 3.2 release behind us, much of the discussions were at a pretty high level, and there was a lot of discussion about the state of GNOME and its path going forward. This was reflected in both the technical and non-technical sessions that were held.

The team present went through all of the features for GNOME 3.3/3.4 and discussed kicking off the 3.3 cycle generally. The discussion dovetailed nicely with the discussions currently underway on the mailing lists. There were presentations on Baserock by Lars Wirzenius, jhbuild by Colin Walters, as well as a number of sessions that facilitated discussion on matters related to GNOME strategy, one on the application menu, with canonical contributing a good chunk of code toward an improved application menu, and one led by Marina Zhurakhinskaya on Google’s Summer of Code program and how to improve and maximize GNOME’s participation in it. There was a lot of great brainstorming and coming to agreement on all sorts of issues. There was so much going on that even though the event wasn’t huge there were some people there that I never even got the chance to talk to and I’m sure there was a lot accomplished that I didn’t even know about (for example, Olivier Crête tells me that he made a fix to again allow the use of the free Theora codec for VoIP calls in Empathy). Other blogs by GNOME hackers give more detailed views on their participation at the Summit:

  • Matthias Clasen blogged about his work during and after the Summit to modernize the deprecation system in GLib and GTK+ by using annotations.
  • Frederic Peters wrote an overview.
  • Jean-François Fortin Tam wrote about his experience at the Summit, including talking to Olivier Crète, Guillaume Desmottes, Robert Ancell and others including me!
  • Tiffany Antopolski recapped the GNOME strategy session.
  • Behdad Esfahbod pointed out that there were quite a few new participants that got their start with the GNOME Women’s Outreach Program.

Many thanks to the sponsors who made this event possible:

See you at the Montreal Summit!

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I can’t wait to see everyone at the Montreal Summit this weekend. I should get there late Sunday morning. I’m really glad that I can make the Summit and excited that I even get to go to the social event Sunday night! I’m also really looking forward to the drive to and from Burlington, VT – it should be a nice time of year for it.

Thanks to the event’s sponsors: Collabora, Codethink and Google and to the companies that are sending their employees to the event!

Some of the things I’ve worked on recently

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Here’s a quick list of some of the things that come to mind that I’ve worked on in the last two weeks:

  • GNOME 3.2 release press
  • helped with organization of the Montreal Summit. I also have been trying to book my travel to go but it’s been extremely difficult – I can get a flight late enough to Burlington, VT (only 2 hours away!) that will allow me to accommodate yom kippur but it turns out that the rental car companies all close right when I’d land, and there are no hotels or b&bs available that are accessible by cab. If I fly Sunday morning directly to Montreal or to Burlington, I’ll get in so late it probably doesn’t make sense to go. Any ideas I’m missing? now made possible, thanks to a suggestion by Marina!
  • talked to a few reporters about medical devices and also GNOME.
  • talked to our bank about fraudulent checks that have been sent out, appearing like they are from GNOME. Rosanna took good steps already to ensure that the checks can’t be cashed, but I talked to the bank about whether they can investigate the matter. They’re completely not set up to do run an investigation like that, which is fascinating. I think it reflects the fact that there is so much fraud that they can only cooperate with the authorities when they are investigating, not take any independent initiatives. Fraud of this kind is just so common.
  • worked on scheduling a meeting time for the marketing team – if you’d like to help out with marketing, join the list!
  • followed up on outstanding invoices to GNOME
  • helped with the Q2 report

And it’s not something I worked on, but last week was rosh hashanah – happy new year everyone! I hope this year is a good one for GNOME.

GNOME Outreach Program for Women is now open for applications

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If I’ve seen you in person since I’ve started at GNOME it’s fairly likely that I’ve talked to you about the Women’s Outreach Program. I’ve been so impressed at the work that Marina, Stormy, and the rest of the GNOME Community have done in setting it up. It amazes me how the program systematically provides paths to overcome so many of the problems that we identify as possible reasons for the lack of involvement by women in free software.

Last year I was interviewed for an article about the topic, and when discussing this with Alex Skud Bayley (formerly Kirrily Robert – congrats to Alex on the name change) at last year’s OSCON, she said something like “if you are a woman in free software at some point you will be considered an expert about women in free software.” I wanted Alex’s thoughts because her 2009 OSCON keynote on the topic was really great. And while I like telling my story and giving my thoughts about the participation of women in free software, I think Alex was right – I’m mostly speaking from personal anecdotal experience. What I love about the Outreach Program is that it’s something concrete. It takes proactive steps to get women involved and try to keep them involved. And it has gotten great results.

I met many of the last round of participants in the program at the Desktop Summit and even listened to a few of them give presentations about their work. I was extremely impressed. Even better, some of these women stick around in our community after their internships are over, which is especially exciting. A couple of the women I talked to said that they believe that their careers have been kickstarted by the program and they’re not sure if they would have gone down that path otherwise.

As Marina writes, in the last session there were seven female interns among the 27 GSoC interns in GNOME. The most it had in previous years was one female participant. She noted that all of the women who applied for GSoC in 2011 found mentors and project ideas, made a first contribution, and navigated the application process with the help of the resources available through the OPW.

Extra thanks to outside funders of the program: Collabora, Google, and Mozilla. They make it possible for the program to have the reach it does.

The new application period for the program is open right now through the end of October, so if you know someone who may be right for the program please send this information their way!

GNOME is an innovative Free Software desktop. It is easy to use and is the most popular desktop distributed with free operating systems.

In an effort to get more women involved in Free Software, the GNOME project is sponsoring several internships for women from December 12, 2011 to March 12, 2012. The application deadline for the program is October 31. The applicants need to get in touch with individual GNOME projects ahead of time to decide which project they are interested in working on and make a small contribution to the project.

Participants will work remotely from home, while getting guidance from an assigned mentor and collaborating within their project’s team and the rest of the GNOME community. The projects include developing software for the core desktop, file management, messaging, popular applications, educational activities, and the platform libraries. There are also non-coding projects, such as graphic design, documentation, and marketing. The stipend for the program is $5,000 (USD).

Please visit to learn more and apply. The mentorship opportunities are also available throughout the year for anyone interested in getting started contributing to GNOME outside of the internship program.

new laptop?

gear 16 Comments

I’ve been thinking of getting a new computer for some time and of course I really love the ZaReason business model. The idea of buying a new computer that comes with the free distro of my choice is just so amazing. I’m thinking of getting the Terra HD. I’ve read a few of the reviews, but have you tried it? Should I get one?