Categories

 

May 2016
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Archive

Public schools making MS Office mandatory

There was an extensive debate on the German discussion list which addressed a lot of aspects that may be relevant to other European countries. I wanted to provide a summary to encourage exchange of information and experiences across borders.

The trigger was a letter that a school kid brought home, informing the parents that a Windows 10 device with MS Office 2013/2016 will be made mandatory to participate in class.

As outrageous this sounds for Free Software supporters, I fear that this is getting common practice throughout Europe and that most parents accept it with a shrug. I’ll be happy for any feedback dispelling or confirming this fear.

Is there a template letter to complain about it?

The original poster asked if there was template letter for such cases that he could use to inform the school that this practice is not what he expects from a public body.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a template or maybe even a booklet of templates? As English is most commonly understood in Europe, it would be best to start with an English version and move on with translations into other languages. In fact, creating a section with sample letters has been on our wish list for years already! Feel free to plunge in!

There are currently two versions of the draft: one and two, both German. (By the way: the FSFE maintains a public Etherpad you can use for such cases.)

As the last post in the discussion so far, Max shared some brief findings from the European Free Software Policy Meeting in Brussels, that it is difficult to “convince” in a letter. It is important not to exaggerate and point out the benefits of the recipient.

Advocating Free Software or demand our rights?

It was discussed whether the focus of the letter should be to convince the school that Free Software is a great thing or rather that they are obliged to leave the minority the right to keep using the systems of their choice.

Some may argue that the majority is using Windows anyway and simply won’t care. Does that entitle a public school to force those who do care to give up their freedom and privacy?

Are we in such a weak position that we have to beg the institutions to let us use Free Software or is there any legal ground where we can claim the right to do so?

Use your right to participate!

Either way, we should make our voice heard more often. During the course of the discussion, Michael encouraged parents to use their right to participate in decision making processes in their kids’ schools.
This process is highly regulated in Germany and what parents can actually do is limited but still, they do have a say on school matters. How is this done elsewhere in Europe?

Is this practice even legal?

Public schools force their students/pupils to use a certain operating system with known backdoors, with a certain office suite using a certain cloud software and various kinds of privacy issues, e.g.: storing personal data in a different jurisdiction.

Is this practice legal? The answer seems to vary depending on which federal state in Germany you look at. How is it in your area? Do you know any rules or laws that would prohibit this kind of practice?

A while back in Switzerland, an expert group recommended to use Free Software after analysing Microsoft’s offer called live@edu back then due to privacy and lock-in concerns. Data protection law would prohibit the data collection mentioned in the proposed contract.

Proposed analogies

To make the problem more transparent to the recipient of the letter, it was proposed to ask: “What would you say if a teacher forced the kids to come to the gym with a special model of sneakers?”

It was mentioned that a similar practice is accepted, and even the default, when it comes to school books. The schools decide what books will be used in class. Why should it be any different with Software?

“The Chains of Habit Are Too Light To Be Felt Until They Are Too Heavy To Be Broken.”

Source unknown, sometimes used by Warren Buffet

I am grateful to Bernd who pointed out that these analogies are missing a crucial aspect. What shoes I wear will not change the way I run and I’ll be as fast with a similar pair of shoes as with the ones I was asked to buy for class. A certain schoolbook will not change the way I read nor change my ability to read or understand complex texts in other books.

Software is fundamentally different. Using a certain software program defines a certain work flow and way of thinking. Learning a certain work flow and get effective with it takes time and effort (with any software). Almost nobody has the motivation or resources to constantly change the way to get a routine task done, especially not if one is already comfortable with one. Just ask a vim user to use emacs!

The program I use to do my homework will probably be the same I write my first job applications with. And the file format will most likely be the same as well as the place where I save them “in the cloud”. Forcing pupils to use proprietary software, will push them into the lock-in trap.

Equality of opportunity

or the widening “Rich-Poor Achievement Gap” may be another argument against such practices. What burden may it be for a poor family to purchase a computer that meets the requirements of Windows 10? They have to buy that computer. There is no way around it. So, they will have to relinquish something else like healthy food or family time as they have to spend more time at work.

Bad publicity or positive campaigning

One thesis in the discussion was that only bad publicity will make the school at hand reconsider their practice. FSFE usually tries to follow a different approach. That doesn’t mean we’d ignore bad news and don’t deal with them. The question is: What will make people change their view? I think it is much more sustainable if the people grasp the idea and benefits of Free Software instead of just “being forced to allow it”.

Point out the learning aspect of using Free Software

Geza suggested to mention the pedagogical angle as well. Free Software offers diversity, allows to experiment and try out various alternatives (different editors, programming languages, desktop environments) and thus leads to a competent self determined and responsible handling of the opportunities available.

Part of the problem is that teachers usually don’t know anything else than MS products themselves as they’ve been in the same creature-of-habit cycle as they are about to push their students.

Sample lesson with OneNote

Bernd pointed us to a tutorial video how OneNote can be used in class and had to admit that it looks pretty impressive and that there is probably no Free Software alternative which would allow a similar work flow.

Bernd is missing an easy to use alternative. Without these alternatives, it is difficult to object (object in the sense of “successfully convince others”).

To create a video that starts a thinking process has been on our ToDo list for a while.

Wanted: Show case of Free Software solutions that are actually being used

It was mentioned that with a list of programs, the same thing could be achieved, but it is highly questionable if this zoo of different applications will ever be used in class.

It is clear that a lot of good stuff can be done with Free Software, but we need to show to the interested audience that it is practical as well. We need you! Do you know somebody using Free Software in class that is willing to create a presentation? Do you know presentations that have been given before and were recorded (preferably under a free licence)?

Are you aware of any educational institution that teaches on/about Free Software?

Going-to-be teachers need to see what is possible with Free Software. It needs to be proven that Free Software can deliver exactly what they need.

Not necessarily what they think they need. It’s not my goal to mimic OneNote or other proprietary products. At the end, the work flow in the tutorial wasn’t that smooth either.
DG said: “Pupils may not be nerds but shouldn’t be the school the place to learn how to use digital tools creatively without having a company make a product out of one particular use case? Until this isn’t done in school – teaching how to use digital tools meaningfully and creatively – the perception that Free Software is only for nerds will stick.”

I’ll advertise this summary on the English mailing list. Please join the discussion there or drop me a note if you have anything to contribute. Thanks!

flattr this!

FSFE Meeting in Frankfurt with talk about Free Software licenses

Last Wednesday, we met in the “Zentrale Coworking” in Frankfurt for the first time as a regular FSFE meeting. We’ve been there numerous times before to support cryptoparties, but this time we listened to the talk about Free Software licences by lawyer and legal network member, Michael Stehmann.

I’ll present a few bullet points of my notes as a brief summary of the event until the slides will be avialable someday under the appropriate wiki entry.

As we gathered together, Jenny informed us about her experiences at airports through the last year when she consequently used her right to say no to body scanners. Many just don’t know that you don’t have to go through them in Europe. Although no effort is shown to educate the passengers about this fact. Security staff rather intimidate reluctant passengers.

MPL 2.0, copyleft, and license compatibility

Combining licenses

The Talk about Free Software Licenses

We were lucky that Michael could combine it with another Free Software advocacy talk in the Rhine/Main area on that day. But on the other hand we didn’t have much time to promote the talk very much. Despite this and flue season we gathered eleven people who followed the talk and the discussions thereafter.

I didn’t take many notes as a lot was known to me and my interest was kind of focused on liability questions for official agencies. (somebody who couldn’t attend asked that question beforehand.

  • basis for liability is the HGB (Commercial Law) in Germany
  • FS licences are seen as “gratuitous” which makes them special in regards to liability concerns
  • Status of contractual partners matters
  • deliberately adding malware is punishable in any case
  • licence audits in companies costs money and nerves
  • Liability in proprietary software

One argument against Free Software is that nobody can be held liable for it, but how much does it differ from proprietary software?

One participant once checked on exactly that and said that the max amount e.g. Microsoft would pay is five thousand US$.

Insurance policies for software liability quesions can be bought and are quite common.

  • the “bus factor” (how many developers may get hit by a bus until the project stalls?)
  • EUPLand liability (again)
    • EUPL does not hinder agencies to make their own liability contracts
  • FLAMain purpose for new projects as permission of all contributors is hard to get after the project is already mature and “old”.

After the talk, we had the following subjects:

  • ZFS and the Linux kernel
  • getting Sun/Oracle libraries free?
  • Helpfulness in Ubuntu forum (“they even read out the manpages for you”)
    • Debian-Forum is also quite good
  • Ubuntu only provides security updates for packages in Main, although most software is in universe
  • Ubuntu PPAs that may only be self signed
  • Future of Mozilla Thunderbird
    • Softmaker pays two deveopers for it
    • there is a vivid community
    • Mozilla pays one developer as well
  • Thunderbird ESR
  • There is interest in the group for an update on the current affairs in Munich/Limux. I’ll check with our fellows in Munich.
  • There is a tool (by Deutsche Telekom) that allows to check for compatible licenses
  • Apache introduced one-sided compatibility with the GPL in their latest license neuer Version eingebaut
  • There is also demand for an easy guide wich licenses are compatible and why you should take licence X rather than Y. I thought that’s already available. How about Wikipedia?

There is of course also:

Well, that’s it for now. See you next time in Darmstadt on April 6! Further details about our meetings can be found in the Wiki.

flattr this!

iloveFS 2016: Thank you OpenWRT developers!

For this years “I love Free Software Day” I decided to express my gratitude to OpenWRT, a free firmware/OS for routers. It runs on almost any hardware, recently even on a 9$ Wifi SDcard reader which may be used as a mobile AP that way.

My router at home has been running on it for years now and I haven’t had ANY trouble with it ever since I flashed it. (OK, I messed up the config once but I can’t blame OpenWRT for that). I used to reboot it every two weeks or so with the stock firmware.

flattr this!

Report of the local FSFE meeting in Frankfurt on Feb 3rd

We once again met in Café Albatros in Frankfurt. A lot of people excused themselves for various reasons so we ended up with just three persons.
In this small group, I participated more than I took notes, so this will be a rather short post.

Main subject was the planning of our next meeting on March 2 in the Coworking Zentrale. Initially this was supposed to be our chance to still do something about the upcoming municipal elections in the federal state of Hesse. On the other hand, many of our regular visitors have expressed interest in a talk about Free Software licenses. And it happens to be that legal network member and long term FSFE activist Michael Stehmann will be in the area on the very same day our next meeting comes up.He agreed to give the talk on this occasion so this is what we are going to do at our new meeting location!

Depending on how many politicians will find the time to visit us just a few days before the elections, we should still manage to combine both subjects to a certain extend.
Next to that, the following topics were discussed:

  • Problems at large scale migrations – we focused on the psychological obstacles of all stakeholders
  • The German Army uses MS Office 365 o.O?
  • The next date for the Rotlintstraßenfest seems to be September 10, 2016. So, you volunteers, mark your calendars!
  • How we may pursue our target to meet in youth houses in and around Frankfurt

That’s basically what my sparse notes reveal. I am looking forward to the next meeting in Bornheim with the talk about Free Software licences. More details will follow soon on our group page in the Fellowship-Wiki.

flattr this!

Bericht vom FSFE Rhein/Main Treffen im Januar

Am 6. Januar trafen wir uns zum ersten mal in diesem Jahr im Café Albatros und haben ordentlich unsere Agenda abgearbeitet. Mit dabei waren
Dirk, Andreas, Christian, Ferdinand, Thomas und ich. Nach der obligatorischen Vorstellungsrunde ging es weiter mit

1 Planung der weiteren Treffen in 2016

Die Coworking-Zentrale in Frankfurt hat uns angeboten ihre Räumlichkeiten für unsere Treffen zu nutzen. Das stieß auf großen Zuspruch und wir werden es zunächst so planen, dass wir unseren früheren Zwei-Monats-Wechsel wieder aufnehmen werden. Das bedeutet, dass wir weiterhin versuchen werden andere Gruppen und Organisationen zu besuchen um auch Menschen außerhalb unserer Filterblase zu erreichen. Die übrigen Treffen stehen natürlich auch allen an Freier Software Interessierten offen. Es werden dann eher “Arbeits-Treffen” in denen ein bestimmtes Projekt oder ein Vortrag oder ähnliches im Vordergrund steht. Danach wird es natürlich wie immer einen gemütlichen Teil geben :)

Zwischenzeitlich hat sich bereits geklärt, dass unser erstes Treffen in der Coworking Zentrale im März stattfinden kann. Näheres dazu in Kürze.

1.1 Jugendhäuser besuchen

Dieses Projekt ist ja nach ein paar zaghaften Emails, die leider unbeantwortet blieben, etwas eingeschlafen. Ich kam noch immer nicht dazu bei den bereits angeschriebenen Einrichtungen mal nachzuhaken, hoffe dass aber irgendwann mal tun zu können.

Der erste Entwurf für die Anschreiben und eine Liste der Einrichtungen, die auch Öffnungszeiten haben, die für uns relevant sind gibt es im EtherPad.

1.2 weitere Gruppen

So lange wir keine Jugendeinrichtungen an der Hand haben, sind unsere nächsten anvisierten Ziele:

  • erneut Darmstadt
  • CCC Wiesbaden
  • Freifunk Ffm
  • CCC Ffm

sofern sie denn mögen.

1.3 Rotlintstraßenfest

Wir werden uns wohl auch dieses Jahr wieder mit einem Stand auf dem Rotlintstraßenfest beteiligen.

Kennt noch jemand andere Straßenfeste an denen ein solcher Stand sinnvoll wäre?

1.4 MakersFair am 30./31. Januar

Eine Möglichkeit wie wir Freie Software auf dieser Messe hätten präsentieren können wäre ein Beispiel-Rechner gewesen auf dem die Programme, die wir auf den FS-Hand-outs vorstellen installiert wären.

Aufgrund der kurzen Vorbereitungszeit haben wir uns dagegen entschieden dort einen Stand anzumelden. Vielleicht werde ich es aber schaffen wenigstens am Sonntag mal dort vorbeizuschauen. Hätte sonst noch jemand Interesse?

1.5 Linux Presentation Day im April

Leider habe ich mir hierzu keine Notizen gemacht. Ich kann mich nur schwach daran erinnern, dass zu dem Thema kaum etwas gesagt wurde. Wenn sich etwas in dem Bereich im Rhein/Main Gebiet ergibt, würde ich vorschlagen wir hängen uns da dran statt das Rad neu zu erfinden.

1.6 Programme auf den Handouts prüfen

Eines der angesprochenen “Arbeitstreffen” in der Zentrale wird wohl den Handouts gewidmet werden. Wir haben die ja blind von den Münchnern übernommen. Da ich einige Programme nicht kenne, würde ich mich persönlich wohler fühlen, sie wenigstens mal selbst ausprobiert zu haben. Außerdem kann man bei der Gelegenheit herausfinden, ob die URLs noch korrekt sind und ob sich nicht vielleicht bessere Alternativen finden lassen.

1.7 Mutterware Party

Auch wenn wir mit der Zentrale dafür einen geeigneten Ort haben würden, denke ich passt so ein Thema eher in die Räume des CCC.
Dirk hat sich bereit erklärt zu demonstrieren wie er Kalender-Einträge/Einladungen mit mutt verwaltet und ich würde die Kombination von mutt mit org-mode und notmuch zeigen. Wäre nicht schlecht, wenn sich noch jemand findet, der ein paar Mutt-Rezepte vorkochen kann.

Addressverwaltung und GnuPG-Einbindung würden mir noch spontan als Themen einfallen.

1.8 Vortrag über Lizenzen

Auf der fsfe-de Mailingliste hatte sich Michael Stehmann angeboten einen Vortrag über Freie Software Lizenzen bei uns zu halten. Dazu besteht Interesse. Hier warten wir mal ab, da er sich möglicherweise sowieso mal in Wiesbaden aufhalten könnte. Wenn sich da näheres ergibt, werden wir berichten.

2 Weitere Themen

2.1 XMPP

Im Zusammenhang einer Diskussion auf der Free-Your-Android Mailingliste, unterhielten wir uns über mögliche WhatsApp/Signal/Telegram Alternativen. Stärken und Schwächen bestimmter XMPP Clients (Resourcen und Prioritäten, OTR und OMEMO) und irssi und bitlbee.

2.2 Keysigning fand sogar mal wieder statt :)

2.3 Zustände und Gepflogenheiten bei Firmen-IT

2.4 ELSTAR und Freie Software

2.5 Status München

2.6 Great Firewall of China

Hierzu gab es vor Jahren auch mal ein Post von Hannes Hauswedel.

2.7 Kommunal”politik” in Eltville

2.8 mögliche Cryptoparty an Ferdinands Schule

2.10 Natürlich der 33C3

Wir wollen versuchen in 2016 mal ein paar Gesandte dorthin zu schicken. Die Vorträge des 32C3 schaut man sich am besten ohne Youtube direkt vom Media Server des CCC an und am allerbesten via BitTorrent.

Und das wars auch schon. Das nächste Treffen findet wieder im Café Albatros am 3. Februar 2016 statt und beginnt um 19:00 Uhr. Details dazu, wie immer im Wiki. Den Tisch werde ich wohl diese Woche buchen. Wer kommt noch?

flattr this!

Bericht vom FSFE Treffen in Frankfurt – 7. Oktober 2015

Am 7. Oktober trafen wir uns wieder im Café Albatros in Frankfurt zu unserem monatlichen FSFE-Treffen. Wir waren diesmal nur zu sechst. Nach der Vorstellungsrunde unterhielten wir uns über folgende Themen:

30 Jahre GNU

Das GNU-Projekt wurde 30! Das wurde weltweit groß gefeiert. Dazu gab es ein recht gelungenes Interview im Tagesanzeiger: Matthias Kirschner, der Präsident der Free Software Foundation Europe, über 30 Jahre freie Software «Politisch denkende Menschen verstehen das Anliegen der freien Software»

Daneben gab es die FSFE Meldung noch in anderen Medien.

RMS Vorträge im Juli

Die beiden Vorträge sind leider an jemanden vorrübergegangen, der unsere Treffen seit Februar nicht mehr besucht hatte. Das kommt davon, wenn man sich nicht auf die Mailingliste einschreibt oder sich sonst wie auf dem laufenden hält. :)

LPD 2015

Der Linux Presentation Day wird am 14. November begangen. Die LUG Hanau macht was und was ich am Treffen noch nicht wusste: Frankfurt auch!

Streit um Sprache: GNU/Linux, GenderInnen, etc.

Sprache schafft Realitäten. Aber ist ein Kreuzzug um die richtigen Begriffe hilfreich die eigentliche Nachricht an die Leute zu bringen?

Freifunk

Thomas beteiligte sich an einer Freifunkinstallation in einer Flüchtlingsunterkunft während wir sprachen und war damit entschuldigt. :)

Björn hatte sich darum gekümmert, dass der vergangene Landesparteitag der Grünen mit Freifunk ausgestattet wurde. Das Digitalforum Gallus im März zu dem Björn eingeladen hatte, soll dort auch erste Früchte getragen haben.

FSFE XMPP update

Es gab ein Update der XMPP Software auf fsfe.org. Danach gab es Probleme mit den Konferenzräumen, die aber mittlerweile behoben scheinen. Hat noch jemand Probleme?

Suche nach neuem Treffpunkt

Wie schon öfters erwähnt, ich persönlich finde das Albatros sehr sympatisch und ich hatte in kleiner Runde nichts auszusetzen. Jedoch ist ein gemeinsames Gespräch aller nicht mehr möglich sobald ein zweiter Tisch angeschoben werden muss. Die Coworking Zentrale hat sich auf Twitter mal angeboten uns aufzunehmen. Getränke gibt es dort auch. Daneben Beamer und WLAN. Was haltet ihr davon? Ansonsten sind wir ja auch schon zwei mal ins Lilium ausgewichen.

Cryptoparties wiederbeleben?

Apropos Coworking-Zentrale. Dort haben ja auch immer die Cryptoparties stattgefunden. Besteht da Interesse diese wiederzubeleben?

Promo Skript zu issue #451

Das Oktober-Treffen war nicht so beworben und erinnert worden wie sonst, weil mir schon wieder der RSPI abgeraucht ist auf dem die Skripte laufen. So langsam wird mir das zu zeitaufwändig. Ich denke ich werde auf einen ordentlichen Server umziehen.

Hoster services

Bei der Gelegenheit tauschen wir uns noch über mögliche Anbieter aus:

  • Uberspace.de
  • Kartir hat von Proton Mail erzählt. Ich habe jetzt nur kurz drüber geschaut und es sieht wirklich interessant aus. Dass die Mails und Keys nicht von den Mitarbeitern eingesehen werden können, ist allerdings ohne die Möglichkeit den im Moment laufenden Quellcode zu inspizieren nur ein Versprechen, dass man glauben muss.
  • Schokokeks.org (disclaimer: da bin ich Kunde)

Bildung

Nach der Einschulung meiner Tochter komme ich so langsam in die heiße Phase dieses Problem “als Betroffener” anzugehen. Thomas bot an mir zur Seite zu stehen. :)

Open Source an Schulen Buch von Sebastian Seitz. Recommendation to use RTF

Bildungs-Team Mitglied Sebasstian Seitz hat vor kurzem ein Buch über Freie Software an Schulen herausgegeben. Ein Autor empfiehlt zum Dokumentenaustausch RTF. RTF ist allerdings proprietär und erlaubt auch nur rudimentäre Formatierung. Ich überlege ob MarkDown nicht besser geeignet wäre. Ob MD auf Akzemptanz stoßen würde, wird allerdings daran hängen wie komfortabel es sich nutzen lässt. Gibt es Editoren, die WYSIWYG für Markdown anbieten?

Daneben frage ich mich ob Hybrid PDFs nicht das Problem lösen könnten.

Da der Dokumentenaustausch sehr oft als problematisch gilt (auch außerhalb der Schule), blieben wir bei der Frage. Microsoft hat kein Interesse ODT ordentlich zu unterstützen. Ich erinnere hier an die Plamondon Files:
Seite 47:

“Work closely with the technology development team, to ensure that they are developing the right technology, the right way. The right technology is that which will make money for Microsoft”

Daneben redeten wir darüber wie Konzerne wie Microsoft und Google keine Mühen scheuen MS565 und GoogleDocs in die Bildungsinstitutionen zu tragen. Bei einem Vortrag von Sam Tuke erfuhr ich, dass die Cloud-Lösung von LibreOffice durchaus konkurenzfähig sein kann.

Pro-Tipp: LibreOffice ohne Java

mit der Option “withoutjava” kompiliert soll LibreOffice ausgesprochen stabil laufen.,

Rechtliches zu den SW Flyern – Impressumspflicht. Haftung bei links?

Wir fragten uns ob wir ohne ausdrücklichen Disclaimer für gegebenfalls geänderte Inhalte hinter den verwendeten Links auf unseren Freie Software Handouts dafür verantwortlich sind oder ob sich die Impressumspflicht auf Druckmedien von der im Internet unterscheidet.

Anyone?

Routerzwang.

Max ist nun teilzeit bei der FSFE beschäftigt um weiter am Thema Routerzwang zu arbeiten und hat schon einige Erfolge zu verbuchen wie Matthias an die Diskussions-Liste meldet unter anderem auch auf der Titelseite von Tagesschau.de

VW software Skandal

Dieses Thema durfte natürlich auch nicht fehlen. Siehe dazu auch die Diskussion auf der Mailingliste (ff) und hier besonders den Blog Post von Daniel Pocock.

 

flattr this!

New education leaflet planned

Current edu flyer

Current edu flyer

It started with a wiki page and the goal to create a short and concise list of reasons why schools should use Free Software. After some forging, we turned the content into an official FSFE leaflet that has been translated and is now available in nine l a n g u a g e s.

There was also a time where we created different versions of it aimed at different target groups like students and parents. Leaflets for other stakeholders were planned as well.

These leaflets are available as online and PDF versions for anyone to print out and use. The PDFs are generated by a script out of the xml files and parsed through LaTeX which makes it fairly easy to maintain these many translations and versions.

However, as we notice that our printed leaflets like the tools (PDF 10.5MB) or GnuPG (PDF 7.2MB) flyers are very well perceived, it’s been decided that an education flyer should be added to the list of things anyone can order from FSFE to spread the word.

Tools leaflet

Tools leaflet

GnuPG flyer

GnuPG flyer

How should this leaflet look like? For sure we’ll include our list of arguments we have already available in 9 languages. What else would be needed to convince people that Free Software is a good thing to teach? What image or graphics should be on the front to catch attention?

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please drop a note to the edu-team!

flattr this!

FSFE Info booth at Rotlintstraßenfest in Frankfurt

Last week Saturday on Software Freedom Day, we had our first outdoor booth at a street festival (Rotlintstraßenfest) in Frankfurt. We got the exact location of the booth  just the day before. After work, I jumped on my bike and had a look at the scene.

proposed location of booth

My site visit a day earlier (I still have to work on my Gimp skills ;)

We arrived in the morning and took our time to set up the pavilion and our new banner.

The friendlyness and willingness to help each other at the festival was remarkable. We got electrical power and an extension cord from the tenants of the house behind us. We lent them our 30m cable drum in return so they could start selling their vegan waffles. The barber 20m down the road allowed us to place a Freifunk router in his shop which then meshed with the outdoor router at our booth.

The booth was manned with three people which was still sufficient to allow us to take turns grabbing something to eat and have a look at the other booths in the beginning. We startet to get busy explaining Free Software to people even while we were still setting up the booth, but shortly after the event officially started, we had no quiet minute anymore until a heavy shower washed all visitors from the street for about 30 minutes. I actually forgot to finish the setup of the booth that way.

We offered some mothers with their strolers shelter under our pavilion and helped others covering their material. Then it turned out that our pavilion was more a device designed to filter big single rain drops and turn them into a fine spray. We lost about 20 leaflets on top of the stacks. They got soaking wet by the time we realized what’s going on and could save the rest of our stock.

Umbrella underneath the pavilion

Umbrella underneath the pavilion

 

But as soon as the rain stopped, people returned as quickly and the three of us continued informing them about Free Software and the FSFE. Sometimes the people even lined up or squeezed their arms between the people we were talking with to grab a leaflet for themselfes.

Besides the standard leaflets anyone can order free of charge (with the option to make a donation – nudge, nudge) we had a modified version of the handouts the Munich group created. Links to the PDF versions are on our wiki page, soucre code is also available of course (under CC0).

The stream of interested people didn’t stop. It was after 20:00hrs when I decided to start dismantling the booth while Thomas was still talking to a couple with a bunch of questions. They kept talking until almost everything was packed and ready for transport. The couple helped picking up the last few items and helped us carrying all the material to an area where cars were allowed again. Did I mention that it was a remarkable friendly athmosphere already?

Despite the heavy rain shower and a few drizzling moments, the weather was much better than predicted. Looking at pictures from previous years, the weather forecast probably kept a lot of people from coming. But as I said, we were quite busy serving those who did come!

We also learned a few practical lessons for future booths. As time allows, I’ll feed the wiki page with it.

So, there is not much more to say that this booth was an enormous success for our group. Apparently, we were visible enough to be noted by a journalists who mentioned “Free Software” in his report about the festival in a local newspaper.

Thanks to Björn for suggesting the booth at this nice event in the first place, creating the first contact with the organizers, organizing the internet connection and stay with us at the booth even though he was in pain. And also a big thank you to Thomas, who took part in a workshop with our friends at the CCC Frankfurt where he handicrafted the Freifunk outdoor router for our booth. This allowed us to present one of the many nice things one can do with Free Software. Most visitors already heard about Freifunk in connection with the refugee shelters in the area. And also thanks to Sven, who would have loved to come but couldn’t attend the booth due to unforeseen circumstances.

 

 

 

flattr this!

MOOC about Free Software

It’s been a few months already since Vitaly Repin pointed us to a project of his: a MOOC about Free Software and I still haven’t mentioned it here.

As they realized that most people are not aware about the complexities of the digital world we live in, the idea of creating a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) dedicated to these important questions appeared. Richard Stallman liked it and suggested to re-use parts of his video tapes in order to create the course. It has been done but some of the parts had to be redone. They made recordings in Helsinki for this as well as the intro video to the course.

I haven’t seen much of it yet, but I can already tell that they put a lot of effort into it to get it done.

So, on May 4, 2015 (May the Forth be with you!) the course was released at Eliademy. The course contains videos, quizzes and forum discussions. Its contents are released under CC BY-NC-SA.

There’s already been some interesting discussion on FSFE’s mailing list about platforms like Eliademy. However, regardless of the platform where it is published, the videos are released under CC BY-ND license and the material is also available on Vitaly’s personal website.

I’m personally more concerned about the ND clause in the videos and the NC clause for the content than any proprietary platform that may use the content.

Vitaly plans to publish it in the Common Cartridge format any time soon now after the first course iteration has been completed. This format is supported by different LMS (e.g., Moodle) and it will allow the local teachers to use the course materials in their educational activities.

He would be more than happy if anybody decides to use the videos they made in other platforms and can spread the word about this course. And there is much more what you can do: provide any feedback on the content, provide translations, improve it, add quizzes, create subtitles, etc.

flattr this!

We don’t use Free Software, we want something that just works!

Joinup reports: Using Free Software in school greatly reduces the time needed to troubleshoot PCs

After migrating to Free Software in the Augustinian College of León, Spain: “For teachers and staff, the amount of technical issues decreased by 63 per cent and in the school’s computer labs by 90 per cent.” (emphasis added)

Good to have something to refer to when I hear: “We don’t have the time to fiddle with this, we need a solution that ‘just works’.”

Also further down in the article, they have a working solution for their whiteboards and document incompatibilities are mentioned. Another proof that raising awareness about open standards beyond Document Freedom Day is really important. BTW, do you already have something planned for next year’s DFD? It should be March 30, 2016.

flattr this!