Just another FSFE Fellowship Blogs site
December 13th, 2013
I have been putting in a few hours with Open Funding for the past few weeks to get some projects up and running on their new Free Software crowd funding site called Open Funding. The idea of the site is that existing Free Software projects can fund new features and plug-ins with the help of a broad base of users. Then, the users get to test the feature before they pay their individual donations. It’s pretty simple, organic and also quite a revolution in my view.
A better way to fund Free Software?
This unique method of fund-raising brings the users and the developers much closer together. Its very diffident to the normal ways that funds get raised, for example when individuals make general donations to the project as a whole or to “kickstarter” style fund-raisers from which they may or many not see a result. It’s even more different to when large organisations donate to get their pet-project integrated quicker. Through Open Funding many users can joint together and donate small affordable amounts, as low as €1, to the features that they need the most and to the features they believe will breath life into a project… and this methodology works perfectly for Manual writing too!
Crowd Funding a manuals: recycle and improve
FlossManuals have a bunch of brilliant GPL licensed texts that can be shared, changed and shared again. One amazing feature of this system is that a book aimed at one audience can, with a few small changes, be turned into a book aimed at another audience. For example, the Email Encryption Workbook aimed at beginners in the general public can be added to so it becomes Encrypting Emails – A guide for small businesses
and small businesses and their clients can learn how keep their data private in a cost effective and simple way. Plus some new chapters will feed back into the original manual, which will also get a spring clean! Wonderful!
The manual writers get money to live off, the money is donated in a transparent way without the involvement of large corporate donors or even charities (both of whom I have worked for and am not against funding stuff to be clear) and a vital new book gets funded quickly and efficiently by people who would us it and by people who would like others to use.
Power in the hands of the developers?
However, for software in particular, there is one problem. Users need developers to make the projects happen. I have found excitement abundant in user groups, forums and mailing lists from those that use the software… but response has been less enthusiastic from those who make it. Some are too busy, often because they have day jobs. Many are suspicious of the methodology, as if somehow features are being “held to ransom” or as though this method of funding were less democratic than just getting donations from those inclined/wealthy enough.
Yet, I can empathise with this position on some levels… I have lived the past few years of my live in relative poverty, paying for software has been out of the question for the most part.
Can you CMYK it? Erm. No.
But then again… when I think of, say, the ever missing CMYK capabilities in GIMP and Inkscape (which many users requested in response to my question) which renders GIMP and Inkscape “unprofessional” and means my printing firm have to “help me” by using a software with an unethical licence to make my work ready for print… well that changes things! Whether the reason for CMYK’s absence be a genuine lack of time, genuine technical issues (or a genuine stubbon-ness) the predicament is pretty embarrassing. So why not, all of us together, just pay someone to build this feature? I know I would put my €5 in the pot, along with about 50,000 other irritated graphic designers! There are so many features that could be added to the gimp so quickly by using this exiting new crowd funding tool to its full potential.
Out of the frying pan and into Free Software
And its not just CMYK: there are so many features that could be added to the gimp so quickly by using this exiting new crowd funding tool to its full potential. When would be a better time than to pimp-the-gimp than when Adobe have taken the extreme step of making Photoshop only a cloud too in an attempt to screw every “pirateing” user of Photoshop into the ground. Developers please email me! gingerling @ inventati .org
December 5th, 2013
I don’t like adverts because they distract me, they try to manipulate me, and they are usually ugly or annoying. But this article got me thinking about adds on-line again. It focuses mostly on Add-block Plus (GPL) which now has a “white list” system. Add’s let through the block must firstly reach certain criteria (no animation, not in the way of the rest of the site, not too big etc) but secondly any large companies wishing to get unblocked - must pay a fee.
I have been concerned about this tactic since looking at Ghostery’s (proprietary) white-list, where it is not clear what it is and why folks are on it. Add Block Plus are at least transparent about what they do – so I can learn and blog and discuss with you guys! Also, if we compare their white list scheme to things like “vegan society approval”, “BUAV approved” or “ethical company mark” – it’s probably pretty similar. If fact, if I could could simply “block” the unethical products, those tested on animals, those with meat in, those made in sweatshops or by firms who shoot union officials, from ever being in front of my face, I probably would.
Anyway, the interesting bit for me is near the end of the article, where it says that the rough cost of an “add free internet” each month would be £44 per user, on top of whatever they pay now. So that’s all the news sites, blogs, social media sites etc we visit – all sites that don’t make money in other ways (so web shops not included).
I would like to look at how they came to this figure exactly, but for now, I think I disagree with it. The first point is that there are many many projects, video and blog especially, which make a profit from adds because they can, not because they need to. And hello, I know how long it takes to make a video… but I am pretty sure 99% of these people would still make the video if they knew for a fact they would never see a dime. It just happens that when they start to get some serious views (and not before!) they think – hey, I could make a bit of cash by putting an add in front this. So actually, they are not the people who need the money for their site. The people are Youtube, who take a cut too. Hosting video takes a lot of server power. So does that take a dime of the cost? Did the factor in need or simply takeup of add revenue??
The situation is similar with blogs. There are so many blogs (and forums) which are “monetised” – but I really doubt this just covers the hosting, or that these people are working full time and that the adds are their income… and even if they were… how can this £44 a month argument hold up in the face of projects like Wikipedia? Given for free, paid for by donations, paid for with time and love? On top of which we know where our money is going with Wikipedia: they tell us, they keep accounts.
I am actually quite uncomfortable with the “transaction” involved with on-line adds on small sites. It goes something like “come to my site, click on an add, I get some money, you know nothing about me, it may be fulling my porn-addiction/coke-habit/mad religion… but you will never find out anyway.” This is in some ways even worse than the high-street / ethical certification situation I mentioned earlier. At least we can, to some extent, know how good/bad/ugly a shop or product is. We can make an informed decision about where our money goes. We can’t really know this with privately run internet sites… which isn’t a problem… till we are giving them money. An here-in lies an issue: by clicking on an add, we are making a financial transaction, a small one, an invisible one, sure. But there is a figure that can be put on it.
That changes the way I think about adds. I guess it’s about more than just me versus manipulation and distraction.
December 3rd, 2013
Interesting article on the BBC http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/comedy/news/comedian-gets-the-last-laugh-over-fcuk-logo-row-8975113.html
November 6th, 2013
I met Mike Little for a coffee the other day. He is one of the founders of WordPress and main organiser of the Manchester WordPress User Group. I was pondering various things we had discussed about improving Free Software group collaboration in Manchester through events such as our CryptoParty – as I was doing this I was running his business card along the gaps in my keyboard back and forth, without really looking at what I was doing…. and look what came out!! All sorts of grossness that I never knew existed. The moral of this story is that when Manchester Groups work together, all the grossness can be cleared away and our minds and hearts (and keyborards) will be free from cat hair and biscuit crumbs once more! Or something like that….
Anyway – watch this space for a suuuper freeeking cool collaboration between FSFE-Mcr and MWUG coming soon… it will blow your minds I promise!!
November 5th, 2013
I spent last week animating with plasticine with some 5-11 year old children from my Mum’s church. I used Phatch, Linux Stop Motion and Kdenlive to make the animation, and got some CC music from CCmixter.org. I hope you like it
November 5th, 2013
A few days ago FSFE launched a new campaign to make young people aware of the digital restrictions that they tolerate. Microblogging and guerilla stickering form core components of this fresh strategy for engaging youth in fighting for digital freedom.
The first tweet, sent on Monday, reveals a list of words which apple refuses to help you type. The list includes the words, virginity, drunkard, abortion and ammo – if you spell them wrong, your iOS spell-check won’t help you! As a dyslexic – I protest! But the question is, will apple help me spell that word? Or is it out of bounds?
— TheyDontWantYou.To (@TheyDontWantYou) November 4, 2013
August 11th, 2013
There has been a second attack on APC/GreenNet servers . The attacks are reported to be linked to the Zimbabwe “elections” . The previous attack left GreenNet/APC services unavailable or disrupted for 7 full days: GreenNet speculated that the size and scale of the attack made Government or Corporate involvement likely [lost link].
The current attack, in addition to technical changes made during the previous one, have allowed GreenNet to locate the specific site that is under attack – however, they have not yet got permission to announce the name of the site.
@DannyKushlick Good point. Yes you can. We have informed the relevant site owner, but don’t have permission to say who it is yet.
— Green Net (@GreenNetISP) August 9, 2013
I will update this post as soon as I hear more, also am updating Wikipedia.
August 4th, 2013
GreenNet, a London based ISP and co-founder of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), have suffered an extensive and lengthy DDoS Attack – and a subsequent block by their upstream providers. Both the APC and GreenNet websites are still down, and many green net customers, which are predominately charities and activists, have been without service for several days.
The attack began at 10.15 BST on Thursday 1 August 2013 seems to be ongoing as of 22:20 BST on Sunday 4th August 2013.
GreenNet, which is a service “geared to the needs of non-profit organisations, activists and people working for social change”  are vocal defenders of digital rights, including privacy and the right to communicate. Green net are a non-profit who use Free Software. They founded an educational IT charity.
APC have an extensive list of achievements which include amazing programs / events for women technology users in Africa. They have been integral to getting the developing world on-line and were the first ISP in many such countries.
It is not clear who has attacked APC/GN or why. Who ever they are, they are no friend to hactivism.
Green net responded to the DDoS attack:
@DocRichard BTW when things quieten down, we might estimate carbon emissions of an attack like this. Thanks for your support.
— Green Net (@GreenNetISP) August 4, 2013
UPDATE: 4th Aug 23:19 BST.
GreenNet has been under DDoS attack since 2013-08-01; Privacy International’s website is down as a result http://t.co/SeNpM7CW4G
— jah (@jahboite) August 4, 2013
UPDATE: 4th Aug 23:24 BST Also affected:
July 18th, 2013
Make your mouse bigger. https://ask.fedoraproject.org/question/7396/cursor-size-and-trail/ – good instructions there except I couldn’t get theme to work, but making mouse size “50″ (which seems to make it the maximum size) worked a treat. No more squinting!
July 13th, 2013
In a Pretsashop store there is a “sort by” drop down menu where customers can sort products by, for example, price or stocking levels. In my instance I wished to remove price and stocking levels, as neither were appropriate to my store, but did not wish to remove the whole menu, because sorting by name might be useful.
To achive this, I opened my file /public_html/themes/mytheme/product-sort.tpl using ftp (I use file zilla) and removed some of the options.
For example, I removed the line below which starts <option> and ends </option> and refers to price:asc (price ascending)
Here you can see I removed three lines of code in total:
the options for quantity:desc, price:desc and price:asc
Hope that helps
ps: sorry I cant post the code properly, the <code></code> tags dont seem to be working properly as the code seems to become active in some way and half of it vanishes, no idea what that is about!!