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!