Teaching Open Source Planet is a Planet, a collection of personal blogs by Teaching Open Source community members working to bring the open source way into academia. We write about our inspirations and experiences in learning, teaching, and collaborating within free and open communities. In the spirit of freedom, we share and criticize in order to collectively improve. We hope you enjoy reading our thoughts; if you’re fascinated by what you see, consider adding your voice to the conversation.
So next week has a certain meaning for millions of Americans that we relate to a story of indians and pilgrims gathering to have a meal together. While that story may be distorted from the historical truth, I do think the symbolic holiday we celebrate is important.
That said, I want to name some individuals I am thankful for….
I’m thankful for Lukas for being a excellent mentor to me at Mozilla for the last two years she was at Mozilla. Lukas helped me learn skills and have opportunities that many Mozillians would not have the opportunity to do. I’m very grateful for her mentoring, teaching, and her passion to help others, especially those who have less opportunity.
I’m especially thankful for Jeff. This year, out of the blue, he came to me this year and offered to have his university students support an open source project I launched and this has helped us grow our l10n community. I’m also grateful for Jeff’s overall thoughtfulness and my ability to go to him over the last couple of years for advice and feedback.
I’m thankful for Majken. She is always a very friendly person who is there to welcome people to the Mozilla Community but also I appreciate how outspoken she is. She is willing to share opinions and beliefs she has that add value to conversations and help us think outside the box. No matter how busy she is, she has been a constant in the Mozilla Project. always there to lend advice or listen.
I’m thankful for Emma. She does something much different than teaching us how to lead or build community, she teaches us how to participate better and build better participation into open source projects. I appreciate her efforts in teaching future generations the open web and being such a great advocate for participation.
I’m thankful for Stormy. She has always been a great leader and it’s been great to work with her on evangelism and event stuff at Mozilla. But even more important than all the work she did at Mozilla, I appreciate all the work she does with various open source nonprofits the committees and boards she serves on or advises that you do not hear about because she does it for the impact.
I’m thankful for Jonathan. He has done a lot for Ubuntu, Kubuntu, KDE and the great open source ecosystem over the years. Jonathan has been a devout open source advocate always standing for what is right and unafraid to share his opinion even if it meant disappointment from others.
Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph
I’m thankful for Elizabeth. She has been a good friend, mentor and listener for years now and does so much more than she gets credit for. Elizabeth is welcoming in the multiple open source projects she is involved in and if you contribute to any of those projects you know who she is because of the work she does.
I’m thankful for our lead Android developer who helps lead our Android development efforts and is a driving force in helping us move forward the vision behind Glucosio and help people around the world. I enjoy near daily if not multiple time a day conversations with him about the technical bits and big picture.
The Core Team + Contributors
I’m very thankful for everyone on the core team and all of our contributors at Glucosio. Without all of you, we would not be what we are today, which is a growing open source project doing amazing work to bring positive change to Diabetes.
I’m thankful for Leslie. She is always very helpful for advice on all things open source and especially open source non-profits. I think she helps us all be better human beings. She really is a force of good and perhaps the best friend you can have in open source.
I’m thankful for Jono. While we often disagree on things, he always has very useful feedback and has an ocean of community management and leadership experience. I also appreciate Jono’s no bullshit approach to discussions. While it can be rough for some, the cut to the chase approach is sometimes a good thing.
I’m thankful for Christie. She has been a great listener over the years I have known her and has been very supportive of community at Mozilla and also inclusion & diversity efforts. Christie is a teacher but also an organizer and in addition to all the things I am thankful for that she did at Mozilla, I also appreciate her efforts locally with Stumptown Syndicate.
I’ve cut to the last chapter of Pasquale’s The Black Box Society, “Towards an Intelligible Society.” I’m interested in where the argument goes. I see now that I’ve gotten through it that the penultimate chapter has Pasquale’s specific policy recommendations. But as I’m not just reading for policy and framing but also for tone and underlying theoretical commitments, I think it’s worth recording some first impressions before doubling back.
These are some points Pasquale makes in the concluding chapter that I wholeheartedly agree with:
There is quite a bit in the conclusion about the specifics of regulation the finance industry. There is an impressive amount of knowledge presented about this and I’ll admit much of it is over my head. I’ll probably have a better sense of it if I get to reading the chapter that is specifically about finance.
There are some things that I found bewildering or off-putting.
For example, there is a section on “Restoring Trust” that talks about how an important problem is that we don’t have enough trust in the reputation and search industries. His solution is to increase the penalties that the FTC and FCC can impose on Google and Facebook for its e.g. privacy violations. The current penalties are too trivial to be effective deterrence. But, Pasquale argues,
It is a broken enforcement model, and we have black boxes to thank for much of this. People can’t be outraged by what they can’t understand. And without some public concern about the trivial level of penalties for lawbreaking here, there are no consequences for the politicians ultimately responsible for them.
The logic here is a little mad. Pasquale is saying that people are not outraged enough by search and reputation companies to demand harsher penalties, and this is a problem because people don’t trust these companies enough. The solution is to convince people to trust these companies less–get outraged by them–in order to get them to punish the companies more.
This is a bit troubling, but makes sense based on Pasquale’s theory of regulatory circularity, which turns politics into a tug-of-war between interests:
The dynamic of circularity teaches us that there is no stable static equilibrium to be achieved between regulators and regulated. The government is either pushing industry to realize some public values in its activities (say, by respecting privacy or investing in sustainable growth), or industry is pushing regulators to promote its own interests.
There’s a simplicity to this that I distrust. It suggests for one that there are no public pressures on industry besides the government such as consumer’s buying power. A lot of Pasquale’s arguments depend on the monopolistic power of certain tech giants. But while network effects are strong, it’s not clear whether this is such a problem that consumers have no market buy in. In many cases tech giants compete with each other even when it looks like they aren’t. For example, many many people have both Facebook and Gmail accounts. Since there is somewhat redundant functionality in both, consumers can rather seemlessly allocate their time, which is tied to advertising revenue, according to which service they feel better serves them, or which is best reputationally. So social media (which is a bit like a combination of a search and reputation service) is not a monopoly. Similarly, if people have multiple search options available to them because, say, the have both Siri on their smart phone and can search Google directly, then that provides an alternative search market.
Meanwhile, government officials are also often self-interested. If there is a road to hell for industry that is to provide free web services to people to attain massive scale, then abuse economic lock-in to extract value from customers, then lobby for further rent-seeking, there is a similar road to hell in government. It starts with populist demagoguery, leads to stable government appointment, and then leverages that power for rents in status.
So, power is power. Everybody tries to get power. The question is what you do once you get it, right?
Perhaps I’m reading between the lines too much. Of course, my evaluation of the book should depend most on the concrete policy recommendations which I haven’t gotten to yet. But I find it unfortunate that what seems to be a lot of perfectly sound history and policy analysis is wrapped in a politics of professional identity that I find very counterproductive. The last paragraph of the book is:
Black box services are often wondrous to behold, but our black-box society has become dangerously unstable, unfair, and unproductive. Neither New York quants nor California engineers can deliver a sound economy or a secure society. Those are the tasks of a citizenry, which can perform its job only as well as it understands the stakes.
Implicitly, New York quants and California engineers are not citizens, to Pasquale, a law professor based in Maryland. Do all real citizens live around Washington, DC? Are they all lawyers? If the government were to start providing public information services, either by hosting them themselves or by funding open source alternatives, would he want everyone designing these open algorithms (who would be quants or engineers, I presume) to move to DC? Do citizens really need to understand the stakes in order to get this to happen? When have citizens, en masse, understood anything, really?
Based on what I’ve read so far, The Black Box Society is an expression of a lack of trust in the social and economic power associated with quantification and computing that took off in the past few dot-com booms. Since expressions of lack of trust for these industries is nothing new, one might wonder (under the influence of Foucault) how the quantified order and the critique of the quantified order manage to coexist and recreate a system of discipline that includes both and maintains its power as a complex of superficially agonistic forces. I give sincere credit to Pasquale for advocating both series income redistribution and public investment in open technology as ways of disrupting that order. But when he falls into the trap of engendering partisan distrust, he loses my confidence.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The ‘Mozilla Coincidental Work Week’ brings everyone at Mozilla together in the same city, at the same time for the opportunity of collaboration – this time in Orlando Florida (Dec 7 – 11) !
‘Mozlando’ is the next stop on our Participation Cohort’s journey – a perfect environment for goal-setting focused on building high impact participation opportunities with product teams. Truly – a beautiful opportunity to invest in, and with each other.
Over 100 volunteers will have the opportunity to work directly with teams helping design and strengthen goals which in many (and most) cases includes Participation. For those invited by the Participation Team, we will of course, be dedicating ourselves to that focus.
We have three distinct volunteer groups attending Orlando:
We will reach out with offers for 1:1 coaching for all in groups 1 & 2. And for the subset of the 3rd group, will reserve blocks of time for those interested in Participation.
The coaching this time around even more important recognizing that connecting volunteers with the project goals is a critical step to bringing sustained strategic advantage to Mozilla . We are asking our cohort to research and consider the following:
At the heart of everything of course is people, why we’re here, why we care, where we envision we can go individually, and with each other. I’m looking forward to all of it!
Feature Image Credit: Nasa on The Commons
The Mozilla Festival took place this last past weekend! Mozfest is the first of three Global Leadership events we’re leveraging to empower a cohort of Participation Leaders in their goals for 2016. This first group of 30 represents those whose goals strongly focused on developing and delivering programs that build skills (leadership and otherwise) of Mozillians.
— Ioana Chiorean (@ioana_cis) November 7, 2015
Mozfest is the perfect place to meet kindred spirits, make new and valuable connections, and to experiment and get feedback in real time. Everything including sessions themselves, lend to hackability and spontaneous invention, the environment encourages a bravery to reach inside ourselves, and to recognize our potential to be the change we want to see in the world .
It was very very exciting to be a part of designing an experience for this group that included pre-event coaching, facilitator training, and leadership workshops led by George Roter. We also hosted the first ever ‘Participation Space’ at Mozfest which was filled with sessions and activities the entire weekend. I wanted to share a few moments that stood out for me, with a sneak peek into what’s next.
As the ‘space wrangler’ for Participation, I didn’t get out much :) but still managed these inspiring moments. Looking forward to reading the blog posts of our entire cohort on their Mozfest moments. Here are more photos of our caped cohort!
Next up, we’ll be holding our first call for those who attend Mozfest, and launching connective efforts to bring in those who have yet to attend an event, or who sadly missed this one because of Visa issues. Lots of goodness ahead!
In recent years, I would say the primary focus of my contribution to Mozilla has been an effort to create educational offerings and experiences with real world value, through open source participation. And this event proved that – not only do people really want learning opportunities like this, but we can make the world a better place, and tech a more diverse environment in the process.
Some highlights in our success on this day:
We had a group of incredible mentors – I would have been lost without them. Special mention to Paula (post main photo) who created virtual machine solution for those who struggled too long with their environments. Mentorship is absolutely key to an event like this, and the talented people that turned up has me dreaming of a mentorship team for all technical projects..
I chose the teach.mozilla.org website as a contribution project. Primarily because I had experience with the environment and codebase, and support from project team members: Mavis and Hannah who were kind enough to tag specific issues with ‘Grace Hopper’.
I also chose this project because I knew the technology was both easy to pickup, and had real world value in the job market. Finally, I knew the ‘Ready, Write, Participate’ message would resonate with a group of learners..learning to Participate :)
Our group was brilliant. I worried that some issues with environment (and we had quite a few) would dampen spirits, or result in people leaving. The opposite happened. Our group emerged in the very best way – a community and a team. When one woman overcame an issue with a node version, she rose to help others reach their own success as well. Experts in environments and issues emerged to mentor others, and by afternoon I had run out of ‘Grace Hopper’ tasks.
I had to remind at least one person to eat, and another woman in the last 15 minutes of the event, was on her feet trying to fix one last issue before submitting her pull request. I was proud, and honoured to be part of a group so diverse (including a male mentor), that there was really no majority in the room. That is an amazing feeling.
Our group demoed their work, and it was an zen moment, to see this group describe not only their work overcoming obstacles, but what they accomplished and why the project mattered. Hope to be back again next year!
Let’s bring some change to the Community Council. A few of those running for Community Council have been on the council for years and not given up their seat to allow new ideas and fresh leadership to come to the council.
I think this is bad not only in governance of open source projects, but in leadership of any body whether it be a nonprofit board, a city council, a parliament, or congress.
At least two of the most senior people, in terms of how long they have been on community council, are in my opinion also the most disconnected and least communicative with the community, with one of them not having contributed to Ubuntu outside of their council role in years.
I think it is time to shake things up and that is why I am prioritizing my vote for the following four people as top picks and I’d encourage you to use your vote however you want but please consider shaking it up and bringing in some new faces.
TL;DR We know entrenchment in community leadership, nonprofit boards and politics is generally bad so lets shake it up!
My pick list:
Jose Antonio Rey
Update: Charles Profitt a member of the Ubuntu CC who is departing emailed me this blog post he did last month which aligns with my opinion on entrenchment and dynamic not static leadership.
I haven't really written anything here in, well, over a year. I've thought a lot about how I really need to start writing again, and what kind of stuff I'd like to write about. Over the last few weeks, I've realized that I'm much more enthusiastic about the stuff that I'm working on when I spend a little time writing or tweeting about it. That said, I think I'm going to move updates about the FOSS projects I'm working on from Twitter to my dev blog.
Every day that I work on something, I'll post a bite-sized update on my dev blog. If I come across something interesting to write about outside of just posting commits, then I'll circle back here and write a bit about it in detail. I'd like to keep this low-volume and long-form (except for this post, obviously), if possible.
I'm going to try this out for at least the next few days, since I have a lot of FOSS work in my pipeline.
Here are some various educational handouts and blog posts elsewhere I’ve created over the past year, in case you find any of them useful:
Handouts / Google Docs:
I’ve also been posting on some Google+ groups, collections, and Twitter accounts:
“Participation doesn’t just happen, it’s built through great design & great leadership”
In three short weeks, the first of our Global Leadership Events: Mozfest 2015 will be upon us and with it increasing buzz of activity will be emerging as our cohort prepares for and travels to London. Mozfest is an opportunity unlike any other to learn, teach, practice and collaborate. We’ll use this journey to bring everyone closer to their personal goals for success at the event itself and as empowerment for our collective vision for Mozilla leadership in 2016.
This year’s Mozfest is a thoughtfully designed, energized mega-opportunity for learning to lead by – leading. New to Mozfest this year is the addition of Pathways, best explained as a connection of sessions under one or more themes. The most exciting part is not only that we’ve curated three pathways for Participation, but that in many cases they intersect other spaces at the festival for magnified opportunity and outreach. Our three pathways are:
Scaling participatory learning experiences This pathway is for participants with enthusiasm for teaching and facilitating, who want to take that passion to create resources and programs that teach others through participation.
Leading and building community through participation This pathway is for participants who want to deepen their practice on leading or building community, or who want to help people who are doing that.
New technologies for participation — challenge This pathway is for people who want to take a technology lens through MozFest and build new participatory experiences with these technologies.
We’re also excited to running many of these sessions, workshops, training and pop-up activities in our very own Participation Space. Think “learning, leading, making, and building” Participation all weekend – together in atmosphere intersecting every other space in the building through pathways.
And best of all – all of this is a backdrop for some pretty amazing personal goals we’ll be working with each of our cohort leaders to design through 1:1 coaching. The pathways are only the starting point in designing a Mozfest experience that brings our cohort closer to their vision for success at this event and for 2016, personal goals they’ll be sharing out in Discourse leading up to the event in November. Phew!
You can follow activities for this and other Global events on Discourse. And using hashtag #Mozfest #ParticipationSpace
Image Credit: Paul Clarke
The act of creating tasks in an open repository is not itself an invitation to get involved. Lets be honest about the ‘types of tasks’ we’re creating, and then just design properly for those we intend for participation.
In Whistler earlier this year, we gathered together a group of code contributors to better understand what barriers, frustrations, ambitions and successes they experienced contributing code to Mozilla projects. Above all other topics, the ‘task description’ was surfaced as the biggest reason for abandoning projects. This, the doorway for participation is given the least attention of all.
As a result, I’ve paid close attention recently to how projects use tasks to invite participation, and experimented a bit in our own Participation Github repository. Probably the best opportunity to understand what makes a task truly ‘open’ is to to witness in ‘real time’, how contributors navigate issue queues. I had such an opportunity this week at the ‘Codeathon for Humanity’ at Grace Hopper Open Source Day, and previously leading an Open Hatch Comes to Campus Day at the University of Victoria.
A quick overview of tasks I’ve noticed:
Meta Task: Meta, Parent or or ‘Feature Tasks’ are a great way to track the overall progress of an initiative or project goals. Unless identified as being this type of task though it can lead to a frustrating journey for someone interested in participation.
Project (Team Member) Tasks: Tasks that require whole or partial involvement of a team member (staff or core contributor) to be completed. There’s nothing wrong with this type of task, but calling them out as being dependent on specific individuals – saves time. Examples: ‘root access’ server tasks, or project management tasks.
The Garbage Tasks: A garbage task is one that appears to have no obvious purpose, deadline or clear outcome. A mystery to the rest of us, these tasks appear to be connected to the single moments in time for the author. These exist everywhere – and I witness the havoc they play on contributors. Often created in a rush or with only the author’s intentions in mind, many of these tasks linger in ‘open’ states. It takes a contributor a long time to discover the irrelevance of tasks like these.
Storytelling Task: Different than a meta-task, and not quite a project task, I’ve encountered quite a few ‘issues’ with a primary goal of storytelling or conversation with an extended opportunity to provide feedback through comments. These are great for transparency and inviting interest, but if there is no clear call to action, it’s probably better as a blog post.
Open or Contributor/Volunteer Task: Is a clear ‘ask’, with action items suitable for completion by an individual. Components of a good open task are:
Helping people filter to Open Issues is a huge win for project and contributor. We’ve been using a tag called ‘volunteer task’ for this purpose, although we may change the name based on feedback. It’s our most viewed tag.
Don’t use abbreviations in titles, and have a clear action reflected.
Referenced Meta/Parent Task
Creating and referencing a Meta Task Is a great way to connect open tasks to the impact of the work being done. They also help generate a sense of collaboration and community that makes work feel meaningful.
I use this in anticipation of questions, and often include reading documentation. Prerequisites are also a way to help people quickly identify which tasks are best suited to their personal goals and curiosity. I include basic skill levels needed as well – with room for learning.
Challenge yourself to bring the key points into the short description. Use Bullet points to break down points vrs writing long paragraphs of text. Link to longer documentation (and make sure your permissions allow anonymous view).
I’ve written a lot about designing participation in steps, and believe that breaking things down this way benefits contributor and project. I know this probably feels tedious especially for smaller bugs, but minimally this means linking to a template explaining ‘how to get started’. Example steps might be:
Value to Contributor
I sometimes include this, and my opinion is this is where ‘mentored bugs’ could plug in vrs a bug being only about mentoring. In the virtuous circle for participation, I think this reminds us to consider this perspective of contributors in all we design.
Although some of this might feel like a lot of work, it actually filters out a large number of questions, helps contributors connect more quickly to opportunity and helps build trust in the process.
I really want a 64-bit ARM laptop, but no one is shipping them yet -- not even Vero Apparatus.
So, I've put together the next-best-thing: a portable, wireless system assembled from off-the-shelf components. The resulting system weights ~1.8 kg (4 lb), has a 5-6 hour battery life, and fits in my laptop bag. It has microSD for storage, an 8-core Cortex-A53 processor, wifi, ethernet, and bluetooth, an external HDMI output for presentations, and 1GB of RAM. The components are held between two sheets of acrylic by 3M Dual Lock fasteners so the configuration can be easily switched up.
This system runs a version of LEAP, our experimental enterprise Linux distribution for AArch64 systems loosely based on the CentOS 7 x86_64 sources, on a 96Boards HiKey. The HiKey isn't officially supported by LEAP (yet), but we expect to support it later this year. I look forward to swapping the HiKey for a 96boards Enterprise Edition board later this year.
If you're at Linaro Connect next week, I'd be glad to give you a peek sometime during the week or on Demo Friday, and I'll blog about how the system was assembled a few weeks down the road.
Netgear sent me their Netgear Arlo camera system making me one of their product ambassadors and wanted my honest feedback on the product, so I spent a few months now evaluating Netgear Arlo and here is my thoughts.
For me, technology needs to be simple to setup and configure and Netgear Arlo was rather simple to install. I simply drilled in some screws for the camera mounts and attached the cameras and then setup the base station and synced them. The whole setup process took me no longer than ten minutes. Although, fine tuning the position and sensitivity of the motion detection did take some time to get right.
So during my first few weeks of checking out Arlo, the Android Mobile application had some usability issues and crashed until Netgear released an update which did take another few weeks. This was sort of frustrating but these things do happen. Overall, my experience once the Android app bug was fixed was positive and the app worked well and was easy to use. The web interface worked well too. It seemed I would frequently get an error about the base station not being responsive via the web interface and this error never seemed reproducible in the Android app, so it felt anecdotally like this was an issue in the web app.
While I received the Netgear Arlo for free, I did check out the price of the Netgear Arlo and it seemed very reasonable priced and comparable if not lower priced than other competing systems.
Surprisingly, while using the Netgear Arlo one night it detected someone on the property and I called the police and later found out the individual was casing homes and was arrested. If it were not for Arlo, I do not know how that would have played out and it makes me feel much more secure knowing I have push notifications whenever Arlo detects motion. The night vision built into the system lets me monitor night and day.
While there are still some optimizations I think Netgear can make to improve how long it takes for a recording to start once motion is sensed, I really found the Arlo to be a good product.
One disappointing aspect of Arlo is that while it’s an internet connected device (and maybe even a IoT device if you will), it so far has no third party integrations like IFTT, WeMo, Phillips Hue or others. This gap left me desiring more in this regard.
For the price point and what you get in this system, Netgear Arlo is a useful tool to help improve security around your home or business. It has helped me in the situation I described above and I have been impressed enough that I have reccomended it to several colleagues who ended up getting the system themselves and also are benefiting from the product.
I think Netgear has a good product here and much potential to continue to improve and optimize it and make it best system out there.
Disclaimer: Netgear provided the product free in exchange for an honest review.
I am returning from a couple of weeks away: rested and super-energized about what’s coming next for the Participation Team and community leadership.
Based on research in the last two heartbeats we have now have an v.1 of Participation Leadership Framework, and we’re fired up and ready to go for the next three weeks developing and testing curriculum in line with that framework.
Volunteer sub-tasks volunteer for my heartbeat are: Curriculum QA and ‘Workshop Co-pilot’. The first is really just about staying connected to the work, and providing feedback and suggestions through review. The second is more of a role for this heartbeat, for someone interested in improving as a facilitator by co-piloting a couple of online workshops with me, and then running an offline version with local contributors in their region. Please reach out in the task comments if you are excited about doing something like this! As with previous volunteer tasks, there are more details in the issue.
Note: we also have ongoing development work on a fork of teach.mozilla.org in an effort to test the import and display external markdown files as content. Thanks to @asdofindia for his great work and recent Pull Request to help this along.
For more on contributing with the Participation Team and the Heartbeat process check out our contribute.md.
That’s it! Except as a final thing I thought I would share all the books that were recommended to me when I asked for suggestions for my time away. I highly recommend time away with books.
Maybe you have not heard, but the Federal Communications Commission is currently considering a proposal which would allow the agency to regulate device manufacturers and make them lock down certain wireless devices such as routers.
This is not good news because if passed, this means OEM’s could prevent users from flashing free and open source firmwares like OpenWRT or other custom firmwares on to hardware they purchase. This is not very consumer friendly and not to mention router OEM’s like Cisco, Linksys, Belkin, Asus, Buffalo, and others are not that great about updating the internals of their firmware and sometimes leave users with firmware that exposes them to security vulnerabilities.
I wanted to write something short and encourage folks to please go and comment here. If this proposal passes, it could have an international impact unless OEM’s decided to ship a U.S. version and International version of their routers which is very unlikely.
Glucosio is an open source project I founded recently. I blogged about the kick off here. I wanted to give an update as the project is moving forward better than I had imagined.
We are currently aiming for our Glucosio for Android Alpha release this month with a tentative release date on September 20th, 2015. This being our Alpha and our first public release will be the base of the app. It will have basic functions but the more advance features on our roadmap will be distributed across subsequent releases and I’m sure we will keep coming up with innovative ideas as we research the needs of people with diabetes. Hat tip to Paolo, Ahmar, Satyajit and Elio who have been working tirelessly on this release.
I’m happy to report that Glucosio is already translated into 13 languages. More specifically: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bengali (India), Breton, Bulgarian, Chinese Simplified, German, Italian, Spanish, Spanish (Venezuela), and Spanish (Mexico). We plan to have Greek, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Hindi before launch. (Want to translate these for us? Check here.) Translations are really important to this project because every language we can offer is a population of people we can reach with our app seeing as diabetes is a global problem. The more people we reach worldwide, the more we can offer great tools to and the more opt-ins to share anonymous trends and demographic data with diabetes researchers we can get. Hat tip to Arturo who is leading our l10n efforts!
We are still actively looking for a lead iOS Developer or even two people contributing part-time on our Glucosio for iOS product. If you know someone, tell them to ping me!
This is sitting in our backburner but it is definitely within the scope of our vision and will help us reach platforms like Firefox OS, Ubuntu Phone and Tizen. We initially looked at doing cross-platform development but realized we could give a better experience if we built individual apps for Android and iOS.
Currently, this project has been very low cost thanks to some great supporters. Other than that, I have bootstrapped any costs, which again have been very small. We have decided from the start of this project that we do not want to monetize our apps because we feel it will dilute our vision and goals for the project. That being said, maybe the team will look into donations, crowdfunding or other options in the future if it becomes necessary. We are also looking into becoming a SPI (Software in the Public Interest) associated project so we will have a financial home and some resources available to us.
We are just going to be focusing for the next few weeks on getting this Alpha out the door. That includes wrapping up translations, doing some internal testing, and making sure we get out a crisp Alpha (that happens right?). Then we will sit down and discuss next things we want to prioritize and have a release post-mortem to improve our next cycle.
We have a really great team of people and would love to have more help. It has so far helped for us to have lots of hands in the pot and allowed us to scale as a project and get a lot of work done in a very short amount of time. If you are interested in contributing, hit us up at hello [AT] glucosio.org or ping us on Twitter at @GlucosioApp. We have contribution areas to include Development (iOS/Android/HTML5), l10n, Marketing, QA, and more. Hopefully by our Beta release, we will have some crisp documentation on our wiki on how to get started on all of these pathways!
In the last few years I’ve learned a ton about what helps people learn, where they get stuck and how to customize learning for various ages, interests and attention-spans. When ‘teaching the web’ for kids as young as eight all the way up to university students there’s always some level of trouble-shooting and tinkering to do with tools I’ve tried so far (both on and offline). Mozilla’s Thimble had been one of those tools, but usually for the very early steps in learning. For more advanced lessons, I’ve tried a number of different solutions, all with some level of challenge. For example I turned more to codepen.io to show the separation of CSS/HTML & JS which was fun but only for super-short snippet-type learning. I also ventured offline with simple editors like Notepad ++ only to run into knowledge-blockers with students – around file-systems or computer permissions for installing new software.
And so, I was super-excited to see the latest version of Thimble released this week – especially after I did some testing. Here’s why I’m to go back to teaching with the (new) Thimble :
The new Thimble allows you to expand your code view, or your preview as you need. Seems small, but huge change from the previous version. With this, the brightness toggle, and text-size customization people will be able settle in to what works best for their learning. And thank you, thank you – the preview screen stays at the exact-scroll position for refreshes.
Many kids ask to make ‘apps’ in my classes, when often what they really mean is “something I can make and share on my phone”. So while the mobile view is obviously great from the perspective of learning to design for mobile, it also helps students understand the web as a platform for their app ideas. I imagine there’s more opportunity to extend that idea well beyond this as well with FFOS app preview perhaps.
A billion-times better. Students can now upload files they need vrs ‘all code in one page’, or link to external files, which with previous versions often resulted in mixed content errors. Yes, so much awesome, including the ability to re-name files names AND upload entire directories, which makes it easy ( I think ) for people to fork and upload projects. I managed to exceed the maximum file-size for upload, but at 5MB seems pretty reasonable. Having files lists also ‘bakes in’ an opportunity to teach file systems, best practices, naming conventions etc – which in the past was offline only. The only thing I couldn’t figure out, was how to download my project. Also next-wish : version control integration.
You can also take and upload ‘selfie’ images from your computer, which will be super-popular, especially for ‘photo booth’ type projects. Youth will love it, providing it passes the privacy agreements of students and schools – but then there’s a lesson to be made with this as well.
One of the biggest challenges and frustrations of getting things working – especially with younger kids is spelling mistakes of file names, attribute names – open tags, poorly nested tags… And so I’m thrilled to see suggestions & auto-complete as part of the new Thimble. Also showing which line has errors (without overwhelming popups) will be a huge help. I think there is also a way to use a color-wheel to add in hex colors (also helpful for younger learners), but I didn’t have a chance to test that.
Adding a tutorial.html file adds a ‘Tutorial’ view pane. I usually write my lessons in Google Docs, print and then give to students who are still learning to type, and so spend a lot of time looking from one to the other. Huge win that instructors can write tutorials as part of the lesson, and that students can keep their eyes on the screen instead of bothering with a second set of instructions. The only improvement I could ask for, would be the ability to assign specific tutorials, to files to create true lesson plans vrs one long file (also more value for sharing).
I’m sure there are a bunch of things I missed, but these are the wins for my classes.
Congratulations, and thank you to the Webmaker team, this is going to make things so so so much easier, and more rewarding for students and teachers.
On a separate note – I can’t help but think this would also help some of the curriculum development I’m working on – asking teams to develop content in Markdown. I see there is a Markdown extension for Brackets, and wonder if Thimble can take on a new file type ‘markdown’ to help educators submit curriculum without coding knowledge. Perhaps this is what that’s the potential for the tutorial file (and collaboration between educators and technologists)
In the last heartbeat, as part of our Q3 goals for leadership development, I interviewed a diverse set of people across Mozilla, asking what they think the skills, knowledge and attitudes of effective Participation Leadership at Mozilla are. Two things really stood out during this process. The first was how many people (staff, contributors and alumni) are truly, truly dedicated to the success of each other and Mozilla’s mission, which was really inspiring and helped inform the quality of this Framework. The second was how many opportunities and resources already exist (or are being created) for leadership development, that if bundled together, with more specifically targeted curriculum and focused outcomes will provide powerful learning by Participating experiences.
This Heartbeat iterated on themes that emerged during those interviews. I thank those who provided feedback on Discourse, and in Github, all of which brought us to this first 0.1 version.
Foundations of Participation Leadership are the core skills, knowledge and attitudes that lend to success on both personal goals, and goals for Participation at Mozilla.
Building Blocks of Participation Leadership are units of learning, that together provide a whole vision for leadership, but individually build skills, attitude and knowledge that inform specific learning outcomes as needed.
Examples of skills, leadership and knowledge for each:
Building for Action and Impact
Empowering Teams and People
We would love your comments, suggestions and ideas on where we are so far. In the next heartbeat we’ll begin building and running workshops with these as guide, and further iterating towards 1.0.
Image Credit: Lead Type by jm3
I into YAWL in a bit more detail. YAWL provides support for modeling and managing workflows. Two major audiences of YAWL are most likely people who deal with business processes and people who deal with healthcare processes. YAWL is primarily written in Java and the last changes seem to have been made this week. The project seems pretty active based on the recency and the frequency of commits.
In another activity part of the “FOSS Field Trip” I evaluated the OpenMRS project for suitability to use as a class project. Here is the rubric with “Mission Critical Criteria” filled out:
OpenMRS is a potential candidate project for a course on software engineering in healthcare that I am developing. It is related to a class module on electronic health records. Furthermore, the primary programming language used is Java, which is the main language in our curriculum. OpenMRS scored high on my evaluation using the rubric above.
Part B, Part 1 Activities 3-9: FOSS Field Trip – SourceForge
(6) SourceForge’s project statuses are as follows:
(7) I compared the Kendo Tournament Viewer software, currently with a “planning” status to the Tux Football software, currently with a “beta” status. Both projects actually seem to be in the same phase of development. They have both been updated in the last 6 months, can be downloaded, installed and run and have gone through at least two minor versions. Sourceforge notes that as of 5/28/2015 neither project is being actively developed and neither project has any clear plan of future features to be implemented. My guess is that the Kendo Tournament Viewer software simply never updated its project status from planning.
(8) You can tell which projects are most used by the number of downloads (both in the last week and other time ranges). Although, downloads don’t necessarily imply usage.
(9) The Kendo Tournament Viewer project is a fun arcade-style 2D football game for Windows and Linux, very reminiscent of Sensible Soccer and Kick Off. It was written in C++. This project appears to be a fun/class project and is intended to be play by young adults / those interested in playing soccer games. The project has a single developer/committer, was most recently updated on 11/14/14, and does not appear to be currently active. I would not likely use this software because computer games are not of interest to me.
Part B, Part 2 Activities 4-13: FOSS Field Trip – OpenHub
(5) There are 3.8 million lines of code (6.1 million total lines, including comments) in the OpenMRS Core project.
(6) The contributors (i.e., developers) appear to be from the US and South Africa
(7) The OpenMRS Core project is written in 15 different languages. See https://www.openhub.net/p/openmrs/analyses/latest/languages_summary.
(9) Java is the language in the OpenMRS Core project with the highest comment ratio (35%)
(11) The average number of contributors in the last 12 months is gateway timeout.
(12) The top three contributors have been involved in the project for gateway timeout.
(13) The average number of commits over the past 12 months, as computed using the information on the project summary page is gateway timeout.
Part B, Part 3 Activity 1: Project Evaluation Criteria
Mission Critical Criteria – Suitability
My evaluation rubric for OpenMRS is as follows:
Personally, I thought that this activity was informative but, at times, repetitive and tedious. I can see how the OpenMRS project could immediately be incorporated to the software testing / software quality assurance classes I teach each spring semester.
For the FOSS field trip assignment, we were asked to visit SourceForge and choose a category. Although SourceForge has changed from what it once used to be (the repository of open source goodness) to more of one place among many (e.g., GitHub), it’s still a good place to find free and open source software. For the second half, we were to evaluate OpenMRS at Open Hub.
I immediately went to one of my favorite areas–Security and Utilities–and looked within the Cryptography Software sub-category. After all who doesn’t want to obfuscate data and store information from prying eyes?
Even though the overall number of projects in this area is smaller than most of the other main categories (e.g., Games) it still offers 220 projects in various status categories. Moreover, the top languages tend to represent those with more maturity: Java, C, C++, and Python. This benefits the applications themselves as well as the potential for possible contributors.
Surprisingly, many of the offerings were in beta or above status markings. This should reflect a set of robust applications. However, one should not rely completely on the project status. Let’s look at two offerings: Password Safe (Production/Stable) and RetroShare (Beta).
Password Safe has 3,319 weekly downloads at the time of this writing. Moreover, it has a fully functional and developed external Website with endorsements as well as a donate link. It has developed support (738 posts) and development discussion (943 posts) lists, an active feature and support ticket list. Password Safe is rated at 4.8 stars with 227 reviews.
Although RetroShare is in beta status it still has 928 weekly downloads. Unlike Password Safe, it does not have an external Website nor are there discussion lists. It does have a more active bug tracking list with 241 closed tickets and 149 open tickets. There are four active developers as opposed to Password Safe’s one maintainer suggesting that there are more bugs and features are still being added.
Even though Password Safe is listed as stable and RetroShare as beta, both have wiki announcements dating back to 2007. This suggests that more than status listings need to be considered when attempting to determine any application’s robustness and overall development complexity.
Finally, Password Safe’s code base is predominantly for Windows OS only. Windows users who want an open source password management program that has been vetted by experts might consider this application. Password Safe was started by Bruce Schneier and is endorsed (and sold) by Yubico and endorsed by the Open Source Initiative. Security professionals will be well aware of Schneier’s good reputation and Yubico’s track record. The project has a Linux beta client, so those who use the Linux OS need to be cautious when entrusting their information to this application.
OpenMRS has its own very developed website, but also can be found at Open Hub. One general comment about Open Hub: this site provides more granular data in a much easier to use interface than SourceForge. It is quite simple for users to learn more about the developers and robustness of a project on Open Hub.
The Project Summary page is an excellent snapshot of the project in terms of a description, code base, and detailed commit information. I plan on using this site as an introduction in classes as it enables students to see a quick snapshot as well as drill down into more detailed information such as how much each contributor has participated in the project.
Overall the field trip was a useful experience and one that I plan on using with my classes as well. The Open Hub site will make it easier to students to compare and contrast various projects. Adding the SourceForge project status definitions will add another layer of richness to their FOSS research.
Welcome to my Free and Open Source Software blog.
Recently I’ve begun volunteering at Idea Fab Labs here in Santa Cruz, with two specific goals — expanding the space to include free/open source software ethos and hacking, and helping all these awesome makers with questions and reality around the open source way.
Tip — I got quite fired-up to do this from Ruth Suehle’s keynote at SCALE this year, so go watch that if you need any reason why you should be helping maker spaces and friends with your open sourcery.
On the first goal, I’m working up a space in the fab labs — similar to the 3D printing, CNC router, laser cutter, jewelry zone, electronics, etc. spaces — goal is to have a place to drop in and do real software hacking; teach others from the bottom all the way up on how and why to contribute; or, yeah, even freaking care about open source software.
Tip — if you live in the 21st century and care about the progress of technology, you should freaking care.
One of my many strategic plans is to launch a curriculum that we deliver 1x to 2x a month (year one), growing toward 2x to 4x a month (i.e., every week maybe!)
What do you think of these topic ideas as a way to introduce free/open source software to a local community that is technical, maker-oriented, but full of questions?
In case you, as a Mozillian, have missed Christie Koehler’s tweets of the last 24 hours, I implore you to have a look but also at the responses from Mozillians and employees current and former who agree that the issues she is pointing out are real and you can read about them here.
These issues are making Mozilla bleed and some are caused or allowed to exist because our leadership, our very governance allows them. We need to have a conversation about these problems and cannot just let Christie’s departure be in vain and roll along with the status quo.
We need to fix the culture at Mozilla and we need to invest in community and diversity and we CANNOT let the status quo continue if we expect to be able to be competitive, innovative and push the mission forward.
Can we have a town hall to discuss some of these issues? Can we get a response from Mitchell, Chris or Mark on these issues?
Discussion on this post is closed but feel free to engage on the Twitterverse. (Be polite)
Saying I’m excited about the Participation Team’s goals for the remainder of the year would be an understatement. And I’m especially excited about the emphasis on community leaders and the development of leadership curriculum that I’m working on. I thought I would write a quick post to provide insight into the work I’m starting this heartbeat, as well as some cool opportunities to get involved.
Goal: Launch the basics of a refreshed leadership program.
Participation at Mozilla has always been an opportunity to ‘learn by doing’, and ‘learning to lead’ is no exception . Being a part of Mozilla Reps program for a number of years now, it’s been incredible to see the transformation of people who arrive with ideas, and through the program’s empowerment, transform into leaders. These are people who’ve had (and continue to have) real impact, not only on Mozilla’s mission, but on their own personal goals for success. That last part is important to the theory I’m working with: when the personal development goals of a volunteer align with outcomes needed by Mozilla , there is a greater likelihood for sustainable impact; a base for scalable momentum.
So, when do we start being more deliberate about leadership development at Mozilla? Right now ! Our Heartbeat started this week, and you can follow the leadership tag for Github issues in coming months. I’m starting on the research phase for a Foundation of Mozilla curriculum will be the first step to connecting motivated, creative and goal-oriented individuals with events that can shape the future for Mozilla. As part of this, we’ll also be developing a standard for community education curriculum, which includes a centralized way to both find, and plug-in community education opportunities.
Both links (in the previous paragraph) point to Github tasks that can help you follow our progress, find planning documents and get involved. You’ll see that the curriculum task also links to ‘volunteer’ sub-tasks,should you want to get more involved in researching, developing curriculum standards, or bringing the Community Education Portal to Mozilla Design standards. I’m also looking for nominations of people who you think would be valuable to consult during this research phase – on which skills, attitude and knowledge should be built into this curriculum. You can nominate people here.
I just wanted to pen quickly that I found Chris Beard’s open letter to Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) to be a bit hypocritical. In the letter he said:
“I am writing to you about a very disturbing aspect of Windows 10. Specifically, that the update experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have.”
Right, but what about the experiences that Mozilla chooses to default for users like switching to Yahoo and making that the default upon upgrade and not respecting their previous settings ?What about baking Pocket and Tiles into the experience? Did users want these features? All I have seen is opposition to them.
“When we first saw the Windows 10 upgrade experience that strips users of their choice by effectively overriding existing user preferences for the Web browser and other apps, we reached out to your team to discuss this issue. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in any meaningful progress, hence this letter.”
Again see above and think about the past year or two where Mozilla has overridden existing user preferences in Firefox. The big difference here is Mozilla calls it acting on behalf of the user as its agent, but when Microsoft does the same it is taking away choice?
Anyways, I can go on but the gist is the letter is hypocritical and really unnecessarily finger pointing. Let’s focus on making great products for our users and technical changes like this to Windows won’t be a barrier to users picking Firefox. Sorry, that I cannot be a Mozillian that will blindly retweet you and support a misguided social media campaign to point fingers at Microsoft.
Read the entire letter here:
Today I learned of some of the worst kind of news, my friend and a valuable contributor to the great open source community Nóirín Plunkett passed away. They (this is their preferred pronoun per their twitter profile) was well regarded in the open source community for contributions.
I had known them for about four years now, having met them at OSCON and seen them regularly at other events. They were always great to have a discussion with and learn from and they always had a smile on their face.
It is very sad to lose them as they demonstrated an unmatchable passion and dedication to open source and community and surely many of us will spend many days, weeks and months reflecting on the sadness of this loss.
Other posts about them:
The other day Berkshire Hathaway joined a number of other multinational mega corporations at the White House to jointly call for more robust action on climate change. While it is great to see companies making some effort to make changes that will help curb climate change, in reality if you look at what Berkshire Hathaway and its subsidiary have offered to curb climate change, it really isn’t a lot of action at the end of the day for such a large utility. PacifiCorp (owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy) has pledged 1,000-megawatt increases in wind and solar purchases and to begin phasing out some coal plants used to generate electricity. These efforts when you look at the overall negative impact on climate of PacifiCorp are rather small in scale.
PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway Energy should really consider a much more loftier goal but ultimately these companies are at the beck and call of shareholders so making large investments will reduce short term profits and that is why they are not going bigger. Another thing in addition to increasing these goals that PacifiCorp could do and should be doing across its grid is replacing transmission infrastructure with a smart grid where power can be stored when capacity exceeds demand. This in turn would reduce emissions significantly but also they could take steps like installing smart meters at all ratepayer locations (which PacifiCorp is behind on and only rolled out in a few small markets).
Between increasing their pledge and investing in a smart grid and smart meters, PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway Energy could have a real effort that would earn more applauds from the Sierra Club and other groups than the watered down pledge they are making right now. The time for big and bold investments in technology and renewable energy generation is now as our future is looking bleak if we all do not make important changes today.
I guess the ultimate question is whether Warren Buffett wants to leave a legacy he can be proud of where his companies were socially responsible and helped solve big problems like climate change or a legacy where minimal efforts were made to get some media attention while not irritating investors. If Buffett really wanted to, his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, could make investments in renewable energy that would curb climate change nearly single handedly.
More information on how the U.S. can have big impact on climate change:
This month’s #mozlove post is for April Morone.
I wrote this post with inspiration from the first version of ‘Participation Personas . Personas (V1) is a list of contributor profiles I use to design participation opportunities. For each persona I also suggest a series of ‘lenses’ which, I believe can help us design with, and for greater diversity and dimension.
A lens can be anything from gender identity and age, to what I called a ‘toxic rating’, which changes the flexibility and value of collaborating with someone. Another lens is what I have (so far) called ‘accessibility’, which encourages thinking about physical challenges of contribution. This could be anything from asking ourselves if resources are ‘screen reader friendly’, to building in a respect for periods of time people may ‘disappear’ to take care of their wellness.
In that light I would like to highlight the contributions, enthusiasm and dedication of April Morone. April describes herself as a ‘disabled contributor’ living with partial blindness, hearing loss and neuro-muscular problems . April is also advocate for helping other people living with disabilities contribute to the Mozilla project. April was kind enough to take time to answer my questions, the first of which was “What got you started contributing?”
“What got me contributing was this insatiable need to help and insatiable need to learn more in the IT field, as well as to DO more in the IT field. I’ve always been helping others, from my cousins, helping teach them at the age of twelve on up, to teaching and helping others.”
You will find April embedded in the project helping others, especially focused on new contributors people setting up local environments for bug-fixes. When I asked her what sustains her participation, she felt equally as motivated by people who ‘want to learn’, as her own interest in teaching and helping.
When listing the challenges to contribution, April identified the continual challenges posed by health issues which include the emotional effects of surviving domestic abuse. On the more predicable scale, April also listed issues with technology fails and limited time as worthy opponants. What’s I think is very inspiring about both April and the community around her is how she describes her continued involvement and the people making a difference for her:
Abishek Gupta, Gautam Sharma, David Walsh, Luke Crouch, Janet Swisher, Hagen Halbach, and Daniel Desira have kept me going. They have been contributors and now also friends who have supported me through difficult times when I might have otherwise have given up contributing. I had thought of dropping out of contributing and even just giving up. But they stood by me, listened, and gave support, which help. What also kept me going is my love of helping others, my love of Mozilla, and my love of IT and web development.
I think this is really, really special in that the community is as much a place to find ‘your people’, as it is a cause to contribute to. I know April is among a small group of volunteers at Mozilla with ambitions of creating a more supportive network for contributors living with disability through directed documentation and on-boarding – which I think is just amazing. I am grateful to be a part of a community that includes April and many of the people she listed who help her be successful.
Next month I hope to write a couple of these posts – we’ll see.
“Felt Heart” Image credit: Lauren Jong
These graphs are based on data gleaned directly from launchpad overtime
One thing to note about these graphs is 2015 is not yet complete so there can be change that will occur in 2015. The statistics should not necessarily be considered to correlate to Ubuntu overall losing popularity. Data from Google Trends for instance overall shows a downtrend for other desktop operating systems which likely correlates to end users focusing and spending more time on mobile these days.
The announcement by the FSF and Software Freedom Conservancy has a lot of jargon in it so to help people better understand I am going to do an analysis. Mind you, back in 2012, I reached out to the FSF on these very licensing concerns which no doubt combined with other developers contacts set in motion these discussions.
In July 2013, the FSF, after receiving numerous complaints from the free software community, brought serious problems with the policy to Canonical’s attention. Since then, on behalf of the FSF, the GNU Project, and a coalition of other concerned free software activists, we have engaged in many conversations with Canonical’s management and legal team proposing and analyzing significant revisions of the overall text. We have worked closely throughout this process with the Software Freedom Conservancy, who provides their expert analysis in a statement published today.
So this is about a year after the time I exchanged emails with Dr. Richard Stallman not only about privacy issues that Canonical was trying to wave off but also these licensing issues. We (myself and other Ubuntu Developers) had been hearing that other distros had been essentially bullied into signing contracts and licenses pursuant to Canonical’s IP Policy for Ubuntu at the time.
While the FSF acknowledges that the first update emerging from that process solves the most pressing issue with the policy — its interference with users’ rights under the GNU GPL and potentially other copyleft licenses covering individual works within Ubuntu — the policy remains problematic in ways that prevent us from endorsing it as a model for others. The FSF will continue to provide feedback to Canonical in the days ahead, and urge them to make additional changes.
In a nutshell, the FSF is making it clear while some progress was made that the Ubuntu IP Policy is still not a good example of a policy that protects the freedoms you have to using code under the licenses of software Ubuntu bundles into the distro we use and love. This is concerning because Canonical has essentially made some concessions but put its foot down and not made as much change as it needs to.
Today’s “trump clause” makes clear that, for example, Canonical’s requirement that users recompile Ubuntu packages from source code before redistributing them is not intended to and does not override the GPL’s explicit permission for users to redistribute covered packages in binary form (with no recompilation requirement) as long as they also provide the corresponding source.
As an example, Canonical was through its legal team asking some distros including Mint that they needed a license to redistribute Ubuntu but this is not true because the underlying licenses already set the rights individuals and groups have in redistributing code.
While this change handles the situation for works covered by the GPL, it does not help works covered by lax permissive licenses (such as the X11 license) that do allow such additional restrictions. With that in mind, the FSF has urged Canonical to not only respect the GPL but to also change its terms to remove restrictions on any of the free works it distributes, no matter which license covers that software. In the meantime, this is a useful reminder that developers are nearly always better off choosing copyleft licenses like the GPL in order to prevent others from imposing arbitrary restrictions on users.
It is clear since the FSF with its ally, the Software Freedom Conservancy in tow, was only able to achieve some success on the GPL front. The FSF being a good steward of the greater open source community realizes this and notes that the policy still has restrictions on freedoms other licenses entitled to you. As such, the FSF is calling on Canonical to do more and do the right thing and not just make concessions but follow all the licenses of software it uses.
Further, the patent language in the current policy should be replaced with a real pledge to only make defensive use of patents and to not initiate litigation against other free software developers. The trademark policy should be revised to provide better guidance to downstream distributors so that they can be confident they know exactly where and when trademarks need to be removed in order to comply with the policy.
This is a very important bit because it protects open source developers and ironically if you read the IP Policy it has some foolish statement like “Canonical has made a significant investment in the Open Invention Network, defending Linux, for the benefit of the open source ecosystem.” which is laughable because here the FSF and Software Freedom Conservancy is having to ask Canonical to respect the licenses of not only Linux but thousands of other pieces of open source software it claims it invests in defending.
Canonical, in our conversations, repeatedly expressed that it is their full intention to liberally allow use of their trademarks and patents by community projects, and not to interfere with the exercise of rights under any copyleft license covering works within Ubuntu. While we appreciate today’s development and do see it as a big step in that direction, we hope they will further revise the policy so that users, to the greatest extent possible, know their rights in advance rather than having to inquire about them or negotiate them. To this end, it will be important to choose language and terms that emphasize freedom over power and avoid terms like intellectual property, which spread bias and confusion.
This is perhaps the most important part because basically the FSF is making it clear the IP Policy still continues to confuse some users and that confusion may chill users into not exercising the freedoms they have to use the software that is freely licensed. Also it is concerning because the IP Policy as it stands violates the community values of the Ubuntu project.
In closing, Canonical should be thanked for making some concessions after so many years but should also, on the same token, be encouraged to fix the document entirely and protect the rights and freedoms of users and respect the licenses of the software Ubuntu ships. Additionally, this makes it clear that Jonathan Ridell, another Ubuntu Community Member who advocated time and time again on this matter and was shut down by the Ubuntu Community Council, really deserves at the very least a formal apology from the Ubuntu Community Council. When individuals ability to speak freely on important issues of advocacy are chilled in Open Source projects, it creates an unwelcoming environment. Jonathan Ridell is by no means the first person to be shut down by leaders in the community or Canonical itself. Over the past few years, there has been a trickle of departures because of people being silenced. In fact, Ubuntu Contributors and LoCo participation is at an all time low, as is participation in the Ubuntu Developer Summit which can only be linked to these attacks on advocates over the years.
Canonical has yet to release any statement in their press centre and neither has the Ubuntu Community Council which said it would wait until
it learned of the outcome of the FSF and SFC asking Canonical to adjust its infringing IP Policy.
For a few months now, I’ve been slowly identifying, and compiling a set of Participation Personas to help me, and hopefully others build quality contribution experiences for people, representing various stages in their Participation journey at Mozilla. In addition to the Persona ‘stories’, I’m insisting that a number of ‘lenses’ need be applied if we are serious about improving dimension and diversity.
Each Persona has the attributes:
These Personas were created with love and feedback of a number of people – you can see the ‘raw’ version here.
This really the first draft, and would be interested in what Personas you feel are missing, and especially how to dig into, and help people apply ‘diversity and dimension’ lenses. Yes you can suggest ‘name changes’, I know they’re a bit odd but it helped me start.
There’s probably a bit too much ‘story’ in each Persona, but I hoped that by making each a web-based it would be easier to digest, and also easier to give feedback. If you do have feedback, which I would LOVE, you can leave comments here or create an issue on the associated Github account.
I’ve dogfooded Firefox OS since its early beginnings and have some of the early hardware (hamachi, unagi, One Touch Fire, ZTE Open, Geeksphone Keon, Flame and ZTE Open C). It was good to hear some of the plans for Firefox OS 2.5 that were discussed at Whistler, but I wanted to take the time and model of this post and remix it for Firefox OS. Firefox OS you are great and free but you are not perfect and you can be the mobile OS that I need.
Just like Apple has Siri and Google has Ok Google, Firefox OS too needs a voice command system that will let me search the web, send a text, open apps, navigate to places. Not only is this good for a smartphone, but when I buy a TV running Firefox OS, voice commands will be very useful.
Let’s face it: notifications on Firefox OS are not a world class experience. Most of the big apps (Facebook, Twitter etc) do not integrate with Firefox OS so when someone messages you or tags you in a photo, you won’t know unless you open the app. There is a bug for this to fix this in Facebook app but the developer left Facebook so it got abandoned. There was never any progress on this for Twitter. In order for Firefox OS to be able to be sustainable and see good adoption, people will need to have notifications this is not negotiable.
While Firefox OS has never shipped in the U.S. yet plenty of Firefox OS developers do live here and so do a good portion of Mozilla Developers. LTE needs to be supported in the stack but also needs to be a requirement for reference devices going forward in the Foxfooding program.
There is much talk about how Mozilla is going to invest big into Firefox OS and that is great and very exciting but one of the biggest things Mozilla could invest in for Firefox OS that would increase adoption is expanding the app ecosystem. Without apps, a platform fails and this is obvious. Right now as things stand, even Ubuntu Phone is ahead of Firefox OS in the app ecosystem race. If Mozilla has to pay companies to port their apps to Firefox OS, well that would be a good investment because random low-quality apps are not going to fill the gap.
I believe Fido Alliance’s U2F is the future of strong authentication on the desktop and mobile so it would be nice to see support for this.
Firefox OS needs to have a foot in the producing local results game since Firefox OS does not have an equivalent of Google Now or a Yelp app. I need something to help me find local businesses and places and ratings. This should be a smart feature that uses my actual location.
We need a WeatherUnderground App or something really slick that delivers the most accurate weather forecasting available.
We need a transit app, not a bunch of local ones that can use my location and tell me available transit options like when trains and buses arrive. The data is out there and most of it is open so let’s build this into the OS or maybe Mozilla should make an app for that.
The updates offered by OEM partners has been deplorable mostly with many devices left behind on versions which leaves users with bugs and stability issues. Mozilla should set the bar high and take OEM’s out of the updates equation much like Ubuntu has done with their Mobile OS. OEM’s cannot be trusted to give regular OS updates and when they don’t the reputation of the platform is blamed for this not the OEM.
Firefox OS will need a Uber or Lyft app to get any kind of non-niche foothold in more westernized countries. I don’t really care if Uber or Lyft is offered as both will work. Uber already allows booking through their website so perhaps a little nudge could get them to package that into an app.
This summarizes ten things I would love to see happen for Firefox OS not all are hard requirements for me but consider this a wish list. Do you have a wish list of 10 things you want in Firefox OS? If so I encourage you to blog about it and dream big!
Yesterday the usual tech news outlets were buzzing over an accidental tweet which the media incorrectly interpreted as Mozilla was ditching flash (Blame The Verge for the chain reaction of copied news articles) entirely as a policy. While that is not the case, I was just as excited as many at the faux-news. This got me thinking: what would it really take for the web to kill Adobe Flash? Could Mozilla really make such a move and kill Flash on its own if it wanted to?
My thought is that Mozilla could not because users would be upset at the immediate lack of support for flash which is widely used. However, if Mozilla talked to other browsers including the Chrome Team, Opera, Vivaldi, Safari etc and made a coordinated effort to get at least some of the major names to agree on a set date to end their support for flash, say a year or so out, then I think it would be possible for Adobe Flash to die.
But absent the above happening a tweet by Alex Stamos, CSO of Facebook is right and maybe he understated it because it is really past time for Adobe to do the right thing and announce a end-of-life date for Adobe Flash in the next year or two. Such an announcement would give websites a year or two to do the major task of removing flash from millions of sites around the world.
The open web would be a better place without Flash but it would also be a better place without Java (sorry Minecraft fans but that game needs porting to HTML5) and other relics of the early less open web.
If you agree it is time for a open web free of flash then go give Alex Stamos’s tweet a RT and buy him a beer.
I’ve sat out of the discussion on Mozilla-Governance that has been ongoing over users disappointment with Pocket. I have seen other Mozillians dive in and defend the feature but I do not think this is helping at all. I read this post “Firefox, you’re supposed to be in my pocket, not the other way around” today and felt like it had many truths in it. I really do not know the rationale for adding Pocket as a default to Firefox but I assume there was some financial benefit for Mozilla involved.
The thing is the Pocket implementation is being lauded by Mozillians and MoCo as something that end users wanted but putting aside the discussions on Mozilla-Governance and the feedback from users on Input (Seems like the negative feedback is non-stop on Pocket). I’ll say that I have personally see a number of friends point out their distaste for this feature and it puts me in an awkward situation because I feel like defending Mozilla by default but rationally I cannot.
Who ever it was in management that gave the green light for this feature clearly is not listening to our users or didn’t get the right brief because I do not see a demand for Pocket in the browser. Can we start living the motto we like to use in marketing so much about how we serve our millions of users and not shareholders?
It seems like we are putting experiments and profit seeking features before our users instead of delivering on the features, performance and stability they truly want. So can we please make the rest of 2015 a year where we do not drop any other controversial features in our users laps? Can we focus on getting Electrolysis right? U2F? Improved ESR Support (Chrome is winning the web in Enterprise and Academia)?
Whistler was an exciting and productive week for the Participation Team (which included volunteers). We learned a lot about ourselves, our team, the expectations of the project and perhaps most importantly – the Participation goals of nearly 30 teams at Mozilla.
The experience reinforced the value of volunteers and volunteer communities at large, magnified by the participation of contributors in nearly every session we ran. In every way, we immersed ourselves in radical participation: listening to outside experts, polling passersby and engaging in intense discussions on every angle of community’s impact on the past, present and future of Mozilla’s mission.
We turned up to lead sessions with some anxiety about our preparedness, about our goals and the expectations with such a large number of teams awaiting us, yet left feeling successful and intrigued. We watched our colleagues on the main stage share some early victories, and vision for the future – the optimism and excitement was palpable.
— Emma Irwin (@sunnydeveloper) June 25, 2015
Overall the week was intense as, in addition to running sessions, we also worked on team vision for the future and the beginning of proposal for a Participation strategy at Mozilla. We look forward to sharing this soon.
On a personal note, one of the most powerful experiences for me was ‘heart’ in Chris Beard’s keynote (and I paraphrase) : that we have one life, and within the gift of each day is the opportunity to do something important. That we choose to spend cherished time helping Mozilla move it’s mission forward is very powerful. As parent of an childhood cancer survivor this philosophy also happens to also be my own. Truly understanding that every day is a gift, is a serious force in all choices I make for my career and in my life. I do choose to be here. It just felt very good to hear that recognition from Chris , with new realization this should be an extension of how we think about gratitude, empowerment and recognition to volunteers who turn donate the gift of their time – perhaps this can strengthen our trust in each other.
There was a lot of talk about ‘Space’ in Whistler – which I got. Being brave, being bold – being adventurous and making new things resonated. I could not ask to be part of a better, more compassionate, smart and creative team and extended community. I think with Participation as our co-pilot, Mozilla can most definitely get there.
I have come up with a new phrase and I am going to keep saying it and it is “The most important open source software has not yet been made.” But why is this phrase true? Simply put we have a lot of great open source software out there but the most important open source software is the one that’s not been written because of some barrier or challenge.
For every person, different software has different levels of importance right? So what is the most important unwritten open source software for me? Well it is health tech software that enables people to better understand how their health is and how their choices can impact it positively and negatively.
I was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and I have from the get-go tried to use technology and software to help me manage it. From graphing my glucose levels so I know how different foods impact me to tracking medication and other important metrics. But one thing stuck out when I was looking at available tools is that there are not many open source health tech applications and tools available and those that did exist were inferior to the proprietary ones.
So why is it important to have these tools be open source if the proprietary ones work well? Simply put, if you have the source code you can trust your data is kept private and safe but also you can build off the tools and integrate them with other services and tools that work specifically for you.
That being said, I came up with the idea of launching a Open Source Project and have formed a team of amazing individuals who share my vision of creating tools to help the millions of people worldwide suffering from both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. We are moving forward with that and are right now in the planning stage of launching the Glucosio Project (Italian for Glucose). The project will initially launch an Android app, then iOS and finally a web app (Think Tizen, Ubuntu Phone, Firefox OS) to allow diabetics to track their glucose and connect with third party services (IFTT, Phillips Hue, Pushbullet, Pushover etc), share the data and better understand the impact of their choices. We very well may expand as the project and contributor base but this is what we have envisioned so far.
I would like to thank Elio Qoshi, Satyajit Sahoo, Paolo Rotolo, Georgi Karavasilev, Priyanka Nag, Joshua Fogg, Viking Karwur, Stefan Angelov, Rahul Kondi and Ahmar Siddiqui for sharing this vision with me and joining as initial project contributors and the core team that will be behind the Glucosio Project.
We still have room for more (Dev, Doc, Creative, l10n etc) and if you are interested in contributing to this project please get in touch with us at hello [at] glucosio.org or follow the project on Github. We hope to make a big difference in many people’s lives with the apps we are working on and hope you will join us!
I haven't introduced my research team for quite a while, and it has changed and grown considerably. Here is the current Open Source Technology for Emerging Platforms team working with me at Seneca's Centre for Development of Open Technology. From left to right:
Edwin and Justin work with me on the DevOps project, which is applying the techniques we've learned and developed to the software development
processes of a local applied research partner.
Michael, Glaser, Artem, Reinildo, and Andrew work with me on the LEAP Project. Recently (since this photo was taken), Reinildo returned to Brazil, and has been replaced by Christopher Markieta (who has previously worked with this project).
I'm dying to tell you the details of the LEAP project, so stay tuned for an announcement in the next week!
I truly believe, that to make Mozilla a place worth ‘hanging your hat‘, we need to get better at being ‘forces of good for each other’. I like to think this idea is catching on, but only time will tell.
This month’s #mozlove post is for Tom Farrow AKA ‘Tad’, a long time contributor, in numerous initiatives across Mozilla. Although Tad’s contribution focus is in Community Dev Ops, it’s his interest in teaching youth digital literacy that first led to a crossing of our paths. You’ll probably find it interesting to know that despite being in his sixth(!!) year of contribution to Mozilla – Tad is still a High School in Solihull Birmingham, UK.
Tad starting contribution to Mozilla after helping a friend install Firefox on their government-issued laptop, which presented some problems. He found help on SUMO, and through being helped was inspired to become a helper and contributor himself. Tad speaks fondly of starting with SUMO, of finding friends, training and mentorship.
Originally drawn to IT and DevOps contribution for the opportunity of ‘belonging to something’, Tad has become a fixture in this space helping design hosting platforms, and the evolution of a multi-tenant WordPress hosting. When I asked what was most rewarding about contributing to Community Dev Ops, he shared that pride in innovating a quality solution.
I’m also increasingly curious about the challenges of participation and asked about this as well. Tad expressed some frustration around ‘access and finding the right people to unlock resources’. I think that’s probably something that speaks to the greater challenges for the Mozilla community in understanding pathways for support.
Finally my favorite question: “How do your friends and family relate to your volunteer efforts? Is it easy or hard to explain volunteering at Mozilla?”.
I don’t really try to explain it – my parents get the general idea, and are happy I’m gaining skills in web technology.
I think it’s very cool that in a world of ‘learn to code’ merchandizing, that Tad found his opportunity to learn and grow technical skills in participation at Mozilla :)
I want to thank Tad for taking the time to chat with me, for being such an amazing contributor, and inspiration to others around the project.
* I set a reminder in my calendar every month, which this month happens to be during Mozilla’s Work Week in Whistler. Tad is also in Whistler, make sure you look out for him – and say hello!