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!

Some things I’ve recently been up to

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Apologies, I’ve gotten out of the habit of posting what I’ve been working on!

In the past couple of weeks I’ve:

  • written a proposal for a grant for the Outreach Program for Women
  • with Marina, developed a formal sponosrship structure for OPW and started contacting organizations and sponsors about the next round of internships
  • worked with the GNOME.Asia team – the conference is shaping up very impressively!
  • started working with Sri and Flavia on the press release for GNOME 3.8, and requested some quotes from some prominent people.
  • worked a bit with Flavia – I’m just a co-mentor for this round’s OPW and I’m again struck by how much more I wish I were doing as a mentor. Thank you thank you thank you to all of the great GNOME mentors (and mentors from other projects). And a thank you to Flavia for keeping me focused and also for reaching out to other folks as well.
  • worked on the annual report, following up with contributors, writing content and proofreading and editing – we’re almost there!
  • partially wrote my talk for LibrePlanet, which is coming up this weekend. I’ve got to get that finished and polished in the next day or two!
  • discussed speaking at a couple of conferences and also at a for-profit company, I’ll keep you posted about upcoming conferences and mention below the ones coming up soon.
  • worked on a few annoying legal related matters, including a couple of things that have been sitting on my desk for a long time
  • wrote a new template invitation letter for conferences to help with the visa application process for GNOMEes who need visas to travel to our hackfests and GUADEC
  • reviewed our form 990, along with Shaun and Rosanna
  • prepared for the a11y grant proposals to come in, and sent out a reminder about the deadline, which was at the end of last week.
  • had my usual meetings – one on one with Andreas, the GNOME.Asia meeting, a board meeting, etc.

Upcoming speaking engagements

  • I’m speaking at LibrePlanet this weekend. It’s a great conference with an awesome freedom-loving audience! I’ve been speaking here for the past few years so it’s really exciting to be asked to give one of the keynotes.I’ll be talking about idealism in free software communities, mostly inspired by the awesomeness of the GNOME community and its struggles following the introduction of GNOME 3
  • Next month I’ll be at the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit, where I’ll be speaking in three different sessions. I’ll be speaking on the legal track (though with a talk that’s not really that much of a legal talk), giving a talk about the Outreach Program for Women and moderating a panel about GPLv3 issues in the auto industry. Should be busy but fun!

Come speak at GNOME.Asia in Seoul!

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All Gangnam Style jokes aside, I wanted to remind you that the 2013 GNOME.Asia summit has its Call for Papers deadline coming up on March 8. I’m really hoping to make it to South Korea this time because I know how awesome the summit has been in recent years! On top of that, there’s a lot of exciting things going on in free software in South Korea, there’s a solid GNOME team based there and they’re providing excellent leadership for the conference! On top of that, Max and the usual GNOME.Asia contributors continue to provide impressive dedication and enthusiasm.

Don’t forget to submit your proposal at http://2013.gnome.asia/cfp/

Your Cyborg

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I’ve been remiss about posting this, but I was interviewed by Canadian Broadcast about medical devices recently. Here is the podcast of the show, which interviews a few people about this (they don’t get to this segment until quite a bit into the file). While they wound up not publishing my discussion specifically of GNOME, the website does link back to this blog. I was happy to hear the discussion framed as one about freedom, and was interested to hear what the other speakers had to say.

2013, year of accessibility (and FOSDEM)

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The problem with declaring something like: “2012 is the year of accessibility for GNOME!” is that it sound like we’ll be moving on after the year is over. Not so! Today we published the call for bids to use the money that we raised from our Friends of GNOME campaign plus another $10,000 generously contributed by Mozilla.

This puts me in exactly the right mindset to listen to Alejandro Piñeiro’s talk at FODSEM on Sunday morning, “How GNOME Obsoleted its “Enable Accessibility” Setting”.

I also can’t wait for Vincent Untz’s Has the GNOME community gone crazy?” talk on Sunday! See you at FOSDEM – I’m in Brussels already and about to head out to meetings including the first in-person advisory board meeting not at GUADEC (at least in a long time). I’m moderating a panel on compliance Saturday morning in the legal issues room which I’m co-chairing again, and will try to spend some quality time at the GNOME booth too. And don’t forget the GNOME beer event on Saturday!

Help Make GNOME Safer than Ever!

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Today we’ve launched a new Friends of GNOME campaign, aimed at making GNOME one of the most secure computing environments available.

Privacy is an extremely important component of a top notch computing environment. Many of us choose to use GNU/Linux systems with privacy in mind. However, while we have many of the right tools in the free software world, we don’t have a desktop where they are well integrated into the user experience.

After meeting Jacob Appelbaum at LCA, I was really inspired about work we could do at GNOME to improve the desktop and make it more secure. Happily, Jacob agreed to come to GUADEC and deliver a GNOME-centric keynote just for us.

Many of us in the GNOME community have been talking about this since then, and have now decided to focus our efforts around a Friends of GNOME campaign. We’re also having a discussion that you can join on desktop-devel-list about features we can add to improve the situation.

So as you head out or stay in for your end of year celebrations, please donate to our new campaign!

The Ups and Downs of GNOME 3

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One of the most interesting parts of being Executive Director of GNOME has been riding the wave of feedback on GNOME 3. I took the position after GNOME 3 was already released, and it was that beautiful vision of the GNU/Linux desktop that inspired me to leave a job I loved. Since then, the highs have been really high and the lows have been tough. One of the very visible disappointments we had was aggressive criticism from Linus Torvalds, which started a cascade of detraction by others and a perception of a real decline in the GNOME community. It’s been difficult to reconcile all of the ups and downs. At GUADEC, we had such a rich experience with great participation by a broad community (and with a very high percentage of active attendance by newcomers) while at the very same time the blogoverse was exploding with news that our contributor diversity had completely dwindled away.

An article today in the Register got me thinking about all of this in a fresh way. The article talks about Linus Torvalds, and primarily about his style of interacting with others. The article ends with this:

Torvalds has switched back to GNOME 3 as he reckons the desktop GUI’s problems are being fixed: “It has been getting less painful. They have extensions that are still too hard to find. You can make your desktop look almost as good as it did two years ago.”

I was a little stunned as I read that – it was an afterthought to the article, and it really brought home how things often work in the free software press. The criticism we received was featured by many – if Linus Torvalds slammed GNOME, then how could it have any future? And yet, not so long after, he’s switched back. The point is that it really takes time to get things right. In free software, we develop in the open. We release often, and sometimes it takes more time to make something that is truly ready for prime time. But by going ahead early, we have the chance to really build a community around our software, be inclusive and have a chance to make mistakes and then learn from them with input from others.

At GUADEC and in connection with our 15th anniversary, we talked a lot about how negatively GNOME 2 was perceived upon release and how it took a long time for it to become the desktop that everyone loved. I think this is how that happens in a true free software community run project – through slow incremental improvements that may only be acknowledged as afterthoughts in an article.

Linus may not stay with GNOME 3 but I’m glad he’s giving it another go and having a more positive experience. I hope that others do the same. I remain as inspired as ever by GNOME. GNOME 3 is a beautiful desktop experience that I continue to enjoy using and love showing off to others. Our community is vibrant. I’m proud to be a part of it and look forward to seeing it grow and improve, incrementally and over time!

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