Happy Birthday, April!

Yesterday, the Vienna Fellowship group had its monthly meeting at the Metalab. One of the Agenda points was this week’s 18th Birthday of France’s leading Free Software Association April. Although FSFE as a whole had already congratulated, we wanted to send April our personal congratulations. This is why we created something analogue with a personal touch (and with our own hands :-)).

Congratulations for April from Vienna

Happy Birthday!

I really hope we got it right, but the ones of us who once learned French, haven’t spoken it for some time. So in case that it can’t be understood, it is supposed to mean “Happy Birthday from Vienna, dear April!”.

A new phase of life

Today was the beginning of a new stage in my life. After two and a half years as part-time software tester, I started working full-time as an Operations Engineer at Sipwise, a small Austrian company doing 100% Free Software (or Open Source, as they call it, see [1] for a summary on the terminology of Software Freedom). Although I’m actually studying chemistry, I have been dreaming about earning my money with Free Software for years. So this new job is nothing less than a dream come true.
Unfortunately, working full time leaves less free time for my family and also my voluntary work at FSFE, but I will try my best to keep both these things up as well. :-) In addition, I will try to report about my work at Sipwise from time to time on my blog. In the meantime, if you’re interested in cutting edge Free Software stuff in the VoIP field and cool things like watching TV over WebRTC [2], you might want to check out the Sipwise blog [3].

[1] http://fsfe.org/freesoftware/basics/comparison.html
[2] http://www.sipwise.com/news/technical/tv-over-webrt/
[3] http://www.sipwise.com/category/news/

The project: “Tracking for freedom”

With summer coming up and my body weight being far higher that I want it to be, I’d like to start a project that should achieve two things: Reduce my weight and further Free Software. Since I like to go cycling every now and then (especially when the weather is fine), I’d like to combine this sport with fundraising.

I usually track my journeys with my GPS-enabled heart rate monitor (Garmin Forerunner 405) and a second GPS receiver (a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx I originally bought for Geocaching). Furthermore, my bike is equipped with a bike computer that measures the distance without GPS, which is useful in case I lose GPS signal. The measured distances of the GPS devices and the bike computer usually differ very litte, but when moving in narrow streets, the GPS sometimes gets a bit confused.

The idea now is to find sponsors who agree to donate a defined amount of money for every kilometre to FSFE at the end of the bicycle season. If a per-kilometre donation is not an option, everyone is of course welcome to donate whatever he or she thinks fits my performance when the season is over. My estimated yearly performance will probably be somewhere between 300 and 1000 kilometres, since I don’t have too much spare time and I’m not very athletic. Despite that, according to my doctor, my lung is currently reduced to 71 percent of its nominal performance (I’m on low medication because of that, so it will hopefully get better in the next months).

To keep you updated on my performance, I’ll post the GPX files of my trips here on my blog. If I manage to import the data from my heart rate monitor to pyTrainer, I might even be able to post some statistics :-)

I hope to go for my first trip tomorrow or during the upcoming weeks. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact me. Of course you are more than welcome to spread my idea to others who you consider possible sponsors!

Happy I love FS day!

Thumbs up! Gollo loves Free SoftwareSince today we celebrate I love FS day, I want to say thank you to everyone who is working for Free Software. It doesn’t matter if you are a developer, a tester, an advocate, a user or whatever comes to your mind. You all rock!

p.s. Thanks to my colleague Martin for taking this extremely professional picture :-)


It’s been a week now since I took my plane from Brussels back to Austria, but since I’ve been on holiday for the rest of last week, my short report on FOSDEM 2010 comes later than it should.
It was my first time at Europe’s biggest Free Software event and I really enjoyed it. Not being a developer myself, I spent most of my FOSDEM time at the FSFE booth. We sold lots of T-Shirts (I also bought some of the new ones myself) and other stuff. We also had a great new tool: an analogue printer (i.e. ball pen). We actually had two versions, which are not yet available from FSFE’s online shop, but should be not too far in the future. Although I didn’t listen to any talks, I learned a lot: I have for example never seen such a professional booth and met so many interesting people in one place. We had interesting discussions on various topics and I also received feedback on different matters, for example regarding the Fellowship.
Of course, I also did a little bit of sightseeing in Brussels. I think it’s an interesting city, although at the moment there are quite a few building sites which confused my GPS navigation a bit :-)
I will definitely come back to Brussels for FOSDEM next year, not only because it’s a great event, but even more because I can again stay with my relatives who I consider some of the greatest people in the world. Maybe my stay will even be longer and include a trip to Paris, as train connection seem to be fast and not too expensive if booked some time it advance.


I know I’m really late with my blog this time, but I finally managed to write about this year’s Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit. I went to Göteborg (I needed some training to pronounce it as the locals do) together with my girlfriend to attend the conference and to do some sight-seeing, which I both enjoyed very much. We arrived on Friday and immediately started to visit some really interesting places, like the Natural History Museum and the christmas market at the Liseberg amusement park. In the evening we went to the IT university, where the conference took place.
I immediately felt comfortable there, because everyone there seemed be very pleased to meet us (and everybody else who arrived). It was really nice to finally meet at least some of the people whom I’ve been working with for quite some time now. As there have already been some reports on FSFE’s activities at FSCONS and how many intersting discussions we had there, so I will keep this short. I think this conference was the best-organised conference I have attended so far and everyone was really trying to his best to make it a perfect event – and in my humble opinion the FSCONS organizers and volunteers succeeded in their efforts. FSFE was presented really well and we got a lot of (positive as well as negative) feedback on different topics (like the Fellowship and others), which I think is very important so we can improve our work and continue to spread the work about Free Software and all the other things we are working on.
My main reason to attend the conference was of course my OpenPGP card workshop which I plan to have again in the future. I think it was well visited (I never expected to have ten visitors or even more at 0900 in the morning) and I had some interesting conversations about the workshop and GnuPG and data security in general after it. Of course we also did some key signing there to strengthen the web of trust. Another noteworthy thing is that Adriaan started a very promising artistic career at FSCONS that will hopefully lead to recognition of FSFE and its employees outside of the Free Software world (although in the very first peace of art, Adriaan missed out one person ;-).
All in all I really enjoyed my time in Göteborg and will definitely attend FSCONS again if money and time allow it.

Geocaching and Freedom

Today I want to write about something that is not really related to Free Software, but to Freedom in another field.
I have a hobby that some of you might know: Geocaching. Short explanation: Geocaching means using a multi-billion Dollar military satellite system to find small plastic boxes in the middle of nowhere.
What you really do is that you get the GPS coordinates of the hiding place, go there and then look for the hidden box. You write your name in the log book in the box and afterwards log your visit on the website you received the coordinates from.
The Freedom-related problem is that the biggest Geocaching website, geocaching.com, has only one goal: get the Geocachers’ money by any means. The website belongs to Groundspeak Inc., the company that also holds the trademark on the name “Geocaching” (although the name was already in use before the company even existed). There a few competing websites, and most of them were threatened with lawsuits by Groundspeak. Also, censorship is rather common in the forums of geocaching.com.
I have to say I really like the idea behind the game, but I prefer having Freedom in everything I do. The problem however is that Groundspeak Inc. has very rigorous rules on where a Geocache may be hidden and thus, every Cache that someone hides is first checked by a reviewer before it is published on geocaching.com. These reviewers sometimes live hundreds of kilometres from the hiding place and have never seen the place before. Still they may tell you to put your Cache 20 metres south of the place you wanted to hide it at – which is impossible in many cases.
On the one hand, I can understand that they don’t want to have 50 caches on 30 sqare metres, but the rules a much more restrictive. This is why have not yet published a cache on geocaching.com. Another problem I have with geocaching.com is that their software is proprietary and they try to prevent that anyone can get their Cache data out of the site without registering and so on.
Luckily, there is an alternative where everyone who is registered can publish a cache that is immediately visible to the whole world: Opencaching.de
The rules you have to obey there are much easier to understand: Don’t break the law, do not put illegal content in your Cache boxes, do not hide the Cache on private property and so on.
The (for me) most important thing however is that Opencaching.de is running on OC-Server, which is Free Software. Everyone can get the Cache data out of the OC-Server via a documented XML interface and there are even more OC-Server features that geocaching.com lacks. For example it is possible to have the Cache description in different languages and you can choose which language you want to see. On geocaching.com, you often have the local language description and below you can find the English one.
What I personally think of as one of the coolest features of OC-Server is that different sites using the software can synchronize their Cache data rather easily. This means that it is possible to have a huge international network of small and local Opencaching websites.
In my humble opinion, everyone who is interested in Freedom and wants to do hide a Geocache himself, should publish it only on Opencaching websites.

It’s better with GNU/Linux

After ASUS decided to turn their back to GNU/Linux (although GNU/Linux on their Netbooks made them famous), they started a “It’s better with Windoze” campaign. If you want a reason to laugh at something stupid, visit their website with NoScript enabled in Firefox: You won’t be able to click at anything, meaning you can’t even watch the movie in which they explain why M$’s OS is better. Shortly after that campaign was started, someone registered the domain itsbetterwithlinux.com, which is not filled with any content yet. The problem is that this site’s domain just doesn’t sound right.
Funny enough, I recently stumbled upon another site that sounded much better: itsbetterwithGNUlinux.com
It’s not filled with much content either, but at least you can find out how to get GNU/Linux there.
I ask everyone of you to add social bookmarks about this site and link it whereever you can. This site definitely needs more popularity.