Posts Tagged ‘conference’


Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Even if Talk Like a Pirate Day (developer idea: implement tlapd, a proxy LDAP server that mangles replies to be more piratey or which intercepts http requests) passed quiety for me this year, I’m still partial to the (ahem) romantic ideals of the pirate. So when Something Positive pointed to a Steve Jackson floortop game Evil Stevie’s Pirate Game which combines Pirates, Lego ships and large group gaming. Whee!

Recent kitchen projects have included a totally failed meringue pie and chocolate ice cream — neither of which the kids liked, but which nonetheless disappeared so quickly no photos are available. And I think I’m getting the hang of white bread now, too. Need to work on getting the crust just right.

GUUG’s Linux Kongress is on right now, if you’re near Nuremberg. NLUUG’s Fall Conference, with Security and Privacy as topics, is coming up at the beginning of November.

Lastly, I’m happy to hear tales of people (like Frederik) Joining the Game. Coincidence that he describes what KDE e.V. does the same day I write a rather dry item on the same topic? Mystery! At least he can spell “e.V.” properly, which I couldn’t.

NLUUG fall conference schedule finalized

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

The NLUUG‘s Fall Conference — this time on the topic of Security — has been finalized. You can find the schedule, with speakers on both practical and theoretical topics, one the conference website. One of the speakers will be Frank Karlitchek, on Cloud security (in the context of OwnCloud). There tends to be a good amount of KDE presence at the NLUUG conference — I guess that means I’m good at spreading the Call for Abstracts in KDE circles, I guess.

Attendance for students is dirt cheap, so here’s a chance to pick up some useful or inspirational information on security.

Next NLUUG conference will be in May, topic still to be disclosed.

Upcoming Conferences: Linux Kongress

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Linux-Kongress 2010, Tue, Sep 21 to Fri, Sep 24 at Georg Simon Ohm University , N├╝rnberg, BAYERN, DE

[quote] Linux-Kongress is by far the most traditional Linux conferences with a focus on development and cutting edge topics. GUUG will organize in 2010 the 17th edition of this event, first started in 1994 in Heidelberg, Linux-Kongress made its trip through a variety of German cities, Netherlands and to the United Kingdom (LinuxConf Europe). Since its start 17 years ago Linux-Kongress has been evolved into the most important meeting for Linux experts and developers in Europe.

The conference focus is kernel and lower-level technologies and things like desktops don’t show up in the programme, but there’s a couple of intereresting bits for the creators of user-level technology, I think: performance tools and IP stack conversions. The former would be interesting to apply to KDE bits in general; the latter will probably just need to be done once at the right level (Qt) to have everyone switched.

Completely unrelated: There’s also a bunch of fairly nice words at the Register about OpenSUSE 11.3.

FOSS Nigeria 2010 report

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

It’s a cold and windy day here in Kano; that’s comparable to a nice warm day in summer in Nijmegen, so I keep explaining, and sitting around in shorts on the steps in front of the university guest house at BUK old campus this morning was very nice.

Frederik has already blogged a bit about the conference and talks and added some pictures — pictures which are quite similar to last year’s bunch, which you can see at a-ig’s blog from last year. I will try to write about the way we prepared for the conference and what our contribution is. We sort of go to the conference as rock stars, but in all honesty there is a great deal we don’t know (and we say so). Just last night, over a fanta at the CS student’s joint here at BUK, I learned a great deal more about Debian packaging and how to effectively share packages when only limited bandwidth is available. Something to add to my trove of knowledge and to share when someone needs it.

So in a sense we (Frederik and myself) act as catalysts, triggering other people to come forward and share their knowledge.

In these past two editions of the FOSS Nigeria conference, the conference schedule has not been fixed beforehand except in the broadest terms (Friday the whole day except for Juma’a prayers, Saturday afternoon, Sunday the whole day until 4 for the closing ceremony) and it hasn’t been clear just how much we’d be speaking anyway. So we prepared some introductory talks on Free Software: what is it; what do software licenses do; what is Linux; what is GNU; how do Free Software projects work; why (and how) you can contribute. For these introductory talks we had slides prepared beforehand; on the evening before the conference we discussed with Mustapha what the schedule should be and how long the talks would go on.

During the conference itself we take questions on paper. The conference writing pad is heavily used for that. The reason we don’t take the questions at the end of each talk from the audience is that that takes too much time to do right — it would mean more mikes, walking into the audience, etc. Also, some of the questions take some serious thought before answering. So we take notes. All the questions are collected and we type them up into slides during breaks or during each other’s talks. Then whenever convenient we do a Q&A session where we go through the question slides and answer them as best we can. Typically that gives us a 45-minute session right after lunch and one at the end of the day. Some questions we got this year:

  • Can you tell us about some Free Software application for agriculture?
  • Can VirtualBox access my Windows partition directly?
  • Can I have your autograph?
  • Is there a Free Software replacement for SPSS?
  • Please demonstrate some 3D and animation tools under Linux
  • Is there a good forms and reports generator for MySQL?

Dear Lazyweb: do you have good answers for these questions? Because we could say “umm .. maybe” ; “probably, but I think it requires guest additions” ; “yes, see me later” ; “I think R does the stats part but I don’t otherwise know” ; “there’s Blender, but I don’t know how to use it” ; “I don’t know”. Really makes you feel useless going over answers like that.

Fortunately a local business is specialized in using Blender for architectural modeling and walkthroughs, so they gave a presentation on the third day of the conference on how they use a Free Software tool (Blender, of course) in their business. “Using FOSS to be your own BOSS”. They said they decided to give their talk after hearing our rather limited answer about 3D, so that was a great catalytic moment.

After day 1 we sat down to plan day 2: who else is talking, how long, what makes the most sense for the audience based on the questions we have had now. So day 2 got a bit more of a practical slant for the afternoon — the morning was taken up by LPI exams. At the end of the day we still had 30-odd questions left in the queue to answer, and not much material for the next day, so we spent the evening writing up slides for new topics and dealing with the bits of paper we’d been handed.

Day 3 turned out to have no slots for us except Q&A sessions, because there were four other speakers including the Blender guys. That’s a great sign, so we skipped our KDE multimedia and Javascript and Python talks to listen to what was happening in Free Software in Kano and surroundings. Blender; databases and web portals; how to make money with Free Software.

There was also an announcement of a Kano Python users group (PyKano) in an effort to get some more Python development off the ground here. I dare say that was one of the best moments of the conference, the launch of a concrete, short term project to improve the software development and ICT community in Kano and promote Free Software at the same time.

A number of translation efforts have been pushed forward as well during these three days. The keyboard stuff I’ve written about is part of an effort to make it easier for everyone to type translated strings. I believe that we’ll get a big influx of Hausa translations over the next few months — probably by email through me, so I’m going to end up as translation coordinator for a language I don’t speak — as well as new work on Kanuri, where first we’ll have to figure out what the language code for it even is.

Next day or two I need to get a translation environment set up here so I can explain better how to begin doing the translations, including tools for testing and whatnot. That means running Lokalize and figuring out how it works. It looks rather intimidating compared to vi applied to the same data.

Anyway, returning to conference planning and the like: the schedule here is a living, changing thing that requires plenty of flexibility, but that makes speaking here such fun. It’s also a broad conference and a great chance to learn many new things — not in the least because we get asked about everything so we have to research a little about everything as well. Expect the unexpected, I guess.

Planning is underway for next year, probably in a different city and with any luck there will be some satellite events as well in outlying towns; if that means traveling around for a few days extra to help ICT in Kano and other states and to spread Free Software (low-cost, freedom-granting, straightforward and by-the-rules Software) then I’m looking forward to FOSS Nigeria 2011 already.

Heat it Up

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

With highs below 40 degrees it’s hard to know if it’s Minnesota in November or Kano this week. Scale is the thing here, and I do hope to be hotting it up in Kano for the second annual FOSS Nigeria conference this week. Akademy 2008 in Mechelen brought us Mustapha Abubakar and he went back home and set up a conference for Free Software in the north of Nigeria. I’m pleased and honoured to be going back for a second round. As in previous years, talks will include Free Software background, some legal stuff, C++, python, and whatever else strikes the fancy of the speakers (some of whom are me and Frederik). I think this year I’m better prepared for the destination — although I’m still looking for my Hausa hat, it’s gotta be in the house somewhere. Sinasiri, here I come! Also, I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys from Hutsoft are doing, which way IT in Kano is growing, meeting up with Mr. Tata again and once again contemplating Free Software under a breadfruit tree.

Upcoming Conferences

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

With the FSFE’s Amsterdam Legal Workshop 2010 behind us and Akademy-BR evidently a great (if rainy) success, it’s time to look forward again. Spring, new life, birds a-cheepin’, etc.

Let’s look at the beginning of may: Linux Audio Conference in Utrecht, for sound junkies of all shapes. Phonon? Nope. But Reinhold Kainhofer — once of KPilot and KDE PIM — is speaking on music notation standards. I should drop by — I still owe him 20 EUR for domain registrations. Lots of other things that make me think “gosh, people do that on computers too?”

Right after the LAC you could move to Ede (about 24 minutes by train) for the NLUUG Spring Conference on System Administration with the LHC on tap. Yes, it needs system administration as well if it’s ever going to blow up the world.

There’s a gap then — fill me in, folks — and end of May will see the Ubuntu 10.04 release party on the 29th. That should keep everyone busy and I’ve got some Ubuntu Thinking Putty to inflict on various people there.

Amsterdam Legal Workshop

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Today is the first day of the Amsterdam Legal Workshop — in full I suppose that’s called the Free Software Foundation Europe’s Freedom Task Force European Legal Network yearly workshop in Amsterdam. As in 2008 and 2009, we have a room full of the top lawyers and technologists in the Free Software legal field. Thanks to the organizational efforts of Shane, Karsten, Hugo and Rainer we’ve got a full two days of talks and demonstrations. As in past years, new relationships develop as we bring different parties to a neutral, private conference. We also take stock of where we are on a global scale with respect to Free Software licensing and legal issues. Glyn Moody was kind enough to open up the conference with a talk on the (singular) conversion from analogue to digital which — as is Glyn’s wont — ties together the past and future and fields of law, biology and computer science. And from there, we’ve gone off into deep legal territory which I won’t write about, but it’s an education.

Back from EOLE

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Wednesday I was at the European Parliament building for the EOLE. The event is a medium-sized (say 60 attendees) legal oriented event around Free Software; this year it featured a track full of definitional goodness — let’s try to formulate words commonly used in Free Software (in licenses, but also other writing) in terms that lawyers can understand.

This kind of event is useful because it works towards normalizing the vocabulary used by practitioners in this area: in other words, we end up calling a spade a spade. If we can agree on what “source code” means exactly in the context of the GPL (actually, version 3 has a fairly lengthy definition, which is something we can work with), then it becomes much easier to consistently advise projects and businesses on how they can best engage with Free Software.

Any get-together of people with a strong legal background in Free Software is sure to bring out some more interesting interpretations or corner cases. There’s always another jurisdiction or recent ruling to take into account, and of course every now and then another new license rears its ugly head (like the Jiggy Wanna license, which is basically Sleepycat if I read it right, but still different). In many ways the resulting discussion “dude! if you squint just like so and read the GPLv2, it turns into a dinosaur!” is a lot like a Free Software technology conference “dude! if you hold your breath and do this DBus call, dinosaurs come out of the firewire port!” Fun corner cases, even when we realize that the core values and meaning in uncomplicated cases (read: situations entered into in good faith by all parties) are well understood.

For me — and just how many times have I read the darn GPL, anyway? — the best insight of the day was the proviso of the GPL that says that the written offer of source code availability (if you don’t deliver the source with a binary distribution) must be valid for any third party. So that has a definite effect on your obligations under the GPL; it also affects some GPL-related advice I’ve given in the past to people, as I thought that the written offer applied only to those who have obtained the (binary) distribution. In a license, every letter counts (which is, in a sense, also unfortunate, because that’s why we have so many).


Saturday, November 14th, 2009

FSCONS day one is nearly done. The FSFE track in the morning was fairly well attended. Both technical topics (like the Fellowship GPG smartcard) and legal. I’ve attended a few other talks, talked to lots of people about licensing issues, eaten scrumptious cookies (the catering is both vegetarian and excellent), and now I’m ready for a nap. After that, I have a few new software licenses to read and think about, because I’ve been asked to comment on several from a Free Software perspective. Not that I’m authoritative on that topic, but I can do the rough work.

North by North-West

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Right. Got that heading? Now turn 90 degrees to your right, because Gothenburg is that way. It’s time for FSCONS, the Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit, so off we go. I’ll be talking about licensing, best practices in governance and trying to learn about Swedish copyright law for a few days. Looking forward to it, including taking advantage of Henrik.