Call for sessions at the FSFE assembly during 32C3

Spontaneous "Free your Android" session during 31C3

Spontaneous "Free your Android" session during 31C3

From December 27-30 2015, there will be the 32nd Chaos Communication Congress (32C3) in the Congress Center of Hamburg where FSFE is happy to host an “assembly”. Such assemblies are community organised spaces inside the congress and the FSFE assembly will offer an information booth, self-organised sessions as well as a sitting corner for all friends of Free Software to come together, meet or simply relax.

To foil the title of this years CCC (“Gated Communities”), we are delighted to offer our community some self-organised sessions at our assembly and we look forward to your contributions. Depending on your session they will either take place directly at our assembly or in a dedicated workshop room. These sessions can be hands-on workshops, inspiring talks, community or developer meetings or any other public activity.
Topics can be anything that is related to Free Software, from your private project to global communities. We welcome technical talks as well as we encourage to give non-technical talks to address philosophical, economical or other thoughts about Free Software. We also like sessions about related subjects with a clear connection to Free Software like privacy, data protection and alike.

If you are interested in hosting a session, please apply no later than
* Sunday, November 22, 18:00 UTC *

by sending an email to me (eal@fsfe.org) with the subject “Session at 32C3″ including a short description and/or slides that you like to use so we have a rough idea what your session is about.

If your session is accepted we happily take care of its proper organisation, publicity and everything else that needs to be done. You are then welcome to simply come and give/host your session : )

BTW: You do not need to be a Fellow of FSFE to host a session. Please feel free to share this message with your friends or your favorite mailing list.

New Palmyra

Palmyra was Syrias best known archeological site, influenced by ancient Greek, Roman and Persian arts and culture. Bassel Khartabil, Free Software developer, started with a 3d virtual reconstruction of Palmyra but is put in prison by the current regime of Assad. In recent months, Palmyra became known around the world due to its deconstruction by the Islamic state, ISIS.

Now the #NewPalmyra project was launched to “create a online community platform and data repository dedicated to the capture, preservation, sharing, and creative reuse of data about the ancient city of Palmyra”
.

The idea is to go on with Khartabils work, to give and use the power of the commons: “3D modelers, archaeologists, artists, curators, developers, educators, journalists, researchers, wikimedians and everyone else is invited to participate and the collected data will be released into the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero license at NewPalmyra.org”.

I was lucky to visit Palmyra before the outbreak of the civil war. Now happy to share my pictures and geo locations with NewPalmyra.org via Wikimedia Commons under CC0. Hopefully helps.

Funeral temple No 86, Palmyra

Columns and tombs in Palmyra

Continue reading

I(ra)nternet – Internet censorship and sanctions in Iran

This is not an in-depth blog post about the internet censorship in Iran. If you look for that you find better stuff ‘out there’ or maybe start with the dedicated wikipedia page, instead. This is mere a simple story about my own experience, using the internet in Iran.

Recently I was in Iran for educational purposes (the thing other people call vacation). I directly came from Bucharest where I was at FSFE’s General Assembly and where I used Airbnb to find a proper accommodation. For those who do not know: Airbnb is a service that offers private accommodations, provided by local people. To prove reliability of the hosts, it comes with a built-in recommendation system. So I was in Iran now and I wanted to write a recommendation about my host in Bucharest inside Airbnb. But, when I tried to log in, I was facing this:

Airbnb as seen inside Iran

Own translation:

Why can I not use Airbnb from my location?
Airbnb has to keep to the law of the United States, that says that people of distinct countries are not allowed to use our service. That is why our service is not available in Cuba, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

Continue reading

European Coordinators Meeting 2015

Last weekend, July 24-26, FSFE invited it’s coordinators all over Europe to the European Coordinators Meeting 2015 (ECM15) in the Unperfekthaus in Essen. Unfortunately, we had a bit less participation then in the previous edition due to some short-time cancellations. Fortunately, this did not spoil the good mood of all those present and we look back on a very exciting and productive coordinators meeting. In this post, find a report of our weekend.

participants of ECM15

Participants of the ECM15

Continue reading

Die Schulen Sachsen-Anhalts, der Finanzminister und Microsoft

Das Land Sachsen-Anhalt steht kurz davor, einen Vertrag mit Microsoft zu unterzeichnen, der vorsieht alle staatlichen Schulen des Landes künftig mit Microsoft Diensten und Programmen auszustatten. Die bisherige Absichtserklärung ist besonders prekär mit Blick auf den Datenschutz aller Lernenden, Lehrenden und Mitarbeitenden. Zudem unterstützt der Staat damit eine Produktbindung junger Menschen an verschlossene IT Lösungen.

Eigentlich hätte eine derart weitreichende Entscheidung – das Errichten einer einheitlichen, zentralisierten Schul-IT – durch ein Übereinkommen von Kommunen, dem Kultusministerium sowie dem Datenschutzbeauftragten besiegelt werden müssen. Weil ihm deren Zustimmung aber vielleicht zu unsicher war, hat der Finanzminister Sachsen-Anhalts, Jens Bullerjahn (SPD), jedoch kurzerhand im Alleingang einen Absichtserklärung über eine “Partnerschaft des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt und der Microsoft Deutschland GmbH” unterschrieben – ohne vorab die anderen Entscheidungsträger zu konsultieren.

Auch sonst schien es dem Finanzministerium lange Zeit wichtig zu sein, die konkreten Verhandlungen lieber geheim zu halten. Obwohl die Absichtserklärung bereits im März erstmals bekannt gegeben wurde ergab im April eine Anfrage auf fragdenstaat.de zur “Partnerschaft zwischen Microsoft und dem Land Sachsen-Anhalt” lediglich ein vollkommen geschwärztes Dokument zur “Einsicht” zurück. Seit kurzem aber ist das Dokument endlich veröffentlicht und daraus zitiert:

“Als eine der ersten Maßnahmen wird hierbei ein zentraler Verzeichnisdienst (Active Directory, Sicherheits- und Identitätsmanagement) begründet, der alle Akteure in der Bildungslandschaft einschließt, gleich ob Lehrende, Lernende oder sonstige Verwaltungsmitarbeiter […] Das Ministerium der Finanzen verantwortet und gestaltet die strategische Architektur, den zentral gesteuerten Aufbau, den Betrieb und die Weiterentwicklung dieser Kernkomponente”

Continue reading

Sachsen-Anhalt verkauft seine Schulen an Microsoft

Das Land Sachsen-Anhalt will mitmachen, up-to-date sein, die Digitalisierung als Chance verstehen, Schule und Lehre modernisieren. Soweit gut, doch leider verpasst die aktuelle Regierung dabei die Chance, eine gute Ausbildung mit digitaler Selbstbestimmung und der Unabhängigkeit der Lehre zu verknüpfen. Anstatt auf den Ausbau von Open Educational Resources mit Freier Software zu setzen, plant die Landesregierung eine vollumfängliche Kooperation und Ausstattung aller öffentlichen Schulen mit Microsoft. Dazu gehört die verpflichtende Nutzung von MS-Software und online-Services bis hin zum Aufbau einer eigenen Microsoft “IT-Academy”. Das ganze unter dem offiziellen Dach der staatlichen Schule und Schulbildung, bezahlt durch den Steuerzahler.
Derartiges Vorhaben darf nicht zugelassen werden. Das ist nicht nur schlecht für den Datenschutz der Schülerinnen und Schüler und das Geld der Steuerzahlenden. Es verhindert zugleich den freien Wettbewerb und damit die Chancen lokaler Dienstleister. Vor allem aber treibt es Generationen von jungen Menschen in die Abhängigkeit zu Microsoft.
Continue reading

How I learned to love the NASA IAU (update)


Ever wondered about the brilliance of the sky you’re looking at night?

Update: Thanks to Michal I realized that it is the International Astronomical Union (IAU) that is the “recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies”. All NASA references have been changed accordingly. However, I still love the NASA for producing and offering royalty-free content.

This week, I encountered something that made me love the International Astronomical Union (IAU): “9882 Stallman”. A main-belt asteroid that is named after Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software movement, the GNU project, the GPL and much more. He, aehm, it was discovered on September 28, 1994.

But #RMS is not the only person who is the name-giving patron of an asteroid. So, I digged a bit deeper and found the IAU as friends and supporters of software freedom. In chronological order of their discovery, I also found “9965 GNU” (Discovered 1992-03-05), “9885 Linux” (Discovered 1994-10-12) and “9793 Torvalds” (Discovered 1996-01-16).

After all, I think this is a nice tribute to Free Software and its importance for the technological infrastructure everybody uses every day – including science, business, society as well as space discovery. And in contrast, I was not able to find any asteroid who is named after non-free software systems or prominent people out of the non-free software world: There is no Apple, no Windows, no Jobs, no Gates, no Ballmer, no Zuckerberg … Now, I love the outer space!
And I hope that other scientific areas also understand the importance of Free Software just as the IAU does.

Ah, maybe I missed some asteroids? In case you find any interesting name in their database that I do not list here, please leave a comment.

update:
there is also “13926 Berners-Lee”. And his asteroid was discovered and named after him already on 2nd Dececember 1986. That’s visionary.

Free Software, local economy and its political realization

Last week, I was invited to talk for the “Concurso Universitario de Software Libre (CUSL)” in Zaragoza, Spain. The objective of this “concurso” is to promote the use and development of Free Software by organising an annual contest among various universities inside Spain. My objective was to get to know the contest and to use this occasion to promote the idea of a Free Software campaign for this years national elections in Spain.

When it comes to Free Software, Spain is different than many countries in Europe. Continue reading

The outcome is unpredictable but your contribution is priceless

Tomorrow is Document Freedom Day and this is the time when I am happy to see people around the world engaging on a local level to highlight the importance of Open Standards. All of them in their very own way and all of them together, spreading the word about document freedom. They do it although no one knows about the particular impact or outcome of their specific local activity to the big story. And no one can measure it. However, this impact can be really big. I know, because recently I was lucky to see such an effect. And today I like to share this story for your inspiration and motivation.

Since two months we have a new participant in our local FSFE group. Continue reading