Archive for the ‘OGLF’ Category
This morning I received my speakers packet for the Free Software and Open Source Symposium taking place at Seneca College in Toronto in a couple of weeks.
For those of you feeling the vacuum that the Ontario GNU/Linux Fest left, this might be a good alternative for you.
Just be aware that early-bird registration ends October 8 and it’s a significant discount. Especially for Students!
As far as the feel of the two conferences…. I won’t pretend that OGLF and FSOSS occupied the same niche, because they always catered to a slightly diffrent audiences. OGLF was more of a user conference and FSOSS is geared at academic use and leading edge development.
That’s not to say that all the topics covered at Seneca are advanced, or that topics at OGLF didn’t meet the needs of hard-core hackers. It’s just that the topics are focused on a slightly different area of the spectrum that is Open Source.
In any case, if you’re looking for a nice little conference in a great city, I’d highly recommend registering for FSOSS.
Yesterday, RIT hosted Richard Stallman and I have to say it was not nearly as odd as I had set myself up for.
The main issue is that RMS’s reputation as a bit of an eccentric precedes him and that can be a bit of a turn off even for those of us who are somewhat familiar with the whole idea of freedom in computing.
Though to be fair to those who are thinking – “Not odd, then why is that the only picture you have of him?” The image you’re seeing here is the Emacs Saint costume that was brought out at the end.
There was video taken of the event and I’m tracking down when and where it will be made available for everyone to see.
For me the best part of the talk was that there seemed to be a fairly diverse crowd. Those, like myself, who are already familar with the ideas of GNU and Libre software and those who were brand new to the ideas presented.
He even covered all the goodies like students getting access to low/no cost Proprietary software. Because it’s like your first hit of crack being free and making you pay once you’re hooked.
All in all it was a very good talk and I’m sure it hit home with many of the students and staff in attendance. I also hope that it will be the begining of even more free software development and usage at RIT.
Since my son will be home from school shortly and I have an errand to run this afternoon, I’ll talk a little bit about my dinner with Stallman in a Part 2 post.
We got started Saturday morning at Seneca@York with an unconfrence/barcamp style pitches.
Right after lunch, Remy DeCausemaker and I did a joint presentation covering the class we’re involved with at RIT.
I kicked things off with the presentation (download) I did for the Ontario GNU Linux Fest a few weeks ago. I didn’t quite fill the 50 minutes at OGLF, and I managed to whip through all of them in about 20 minutes on Saturday.
Then Remy brought us up to speed on how he got involved with the class and how his new position as a fellow at RIT fits with his ongoing work with organizations such as the Sunlight Foundation.
We then tag-teamed questions from the group. Everything from gaining a foothold in universities, to the kids getting excused from class on Tuesday if they attend Remy’s upcoming Hack-a-thon.
After the keynote, we all made our way to Dave and Buster’s. I had never heard of the place, but I liked it. If you haven’t been, it reminded me of a grown-ups Chuck E Cheese.
On my way back to my hotel, I was passed by a police car… Then an emergency truck, then a fire truck… “Must be an accident somewhere” I mused to myself.
However, all 3 turn on Wilson Ave… in the direction of my hotel.
Why yes, there was a fire truck parked in the driveway when I arrived moments later.
It was only a dryer fire and I was able to get into my room about 30 minutes later.
I’ll cover Sunday’s hack fests in my next post so look for day 2 soon.
We had lots of SWAG, thanks to everyone’s help. Even some more last minute Fedora SWAG by way of Charles Proffitt. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Mike Lee. Not sure why I didn’t mention him in the last post, but he did send some print collateral ideas. It was his email that gave me the graphical layout for the Sugar Spin discs we printed and burned for the booth.
So Mike, and Chas – Thank you again.
Now as far as the action in the booth, Monday was a much busier day than Tuesday. We gave out lots of Sugar Spins and lots of openSUSE Edu Li-F-E discs.
Of course the topic of Sugar on a Stick, getting involved, Freedom and free downloads were covered over and over again. All good stuff and I don’t think explaining it ever gets old for me. In fact, when I left at 2:30 on Tuesday, my voice was hoarse.
The OLPC XO-1 laptops were such a big hit and I knew they would be. After all, when you have educators, and an education tool, what would you expect?
One thing I didn’t expect was that about 10% of the booth visitors thought it was a toy and/or hadn’t heard of OLPC. So it’s a good thing they stopped by so we could introduce the possibility of truly open and interactive learning.
On the other hand, those who were familiar (having at least heard of OLPC), only a few had ever seen one in person.
The very few folks I spoke with who knew lots about OLPC commented that they still weren’t sure how to introduce the learning environment into their schools or lessons.
Almost no one knew about Sugar on a Stick as an inexpensive alternative to an XO deployment. (and yes, I’ll give them that one, as SoaS is still a fairly new concept)
In contrast, almost everyone I spoke to at Ontario GNU Linux Fest knew of OLPC and seen an XO in person.
I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a big red flag here.
We should all be wondering why this knowledge gap between FOSS and Edu has formed. Is it because bunch of geeks, hell-bent of freedom and open communications are avoiding local conversations about topics that would have a positive effect on the children in their community?
I might be wrong, but that may be more than a rhetorical question.
In my opinion, by staying in our own geek community, no matter how international that may be, and rarely taking FOSS into the local community it seems we’re being counter productive. I’m not sure if it’s fear of being too geeky for the average citizen, or what. Regardless of the reasons, I’m now seeing that it’s an area that should be addressed.
Now to get off my soap box and walk the walk, here are two examples of how I’m trying to bridge gaps locally.
First I offered to help a rural school district in Wayne County NY hold an install fest. I’ve even gone so far as to say I’d help find computers to install Linux and FOSS applications on. Why? Because the 2 teachers I met with casually mentioned that they have children without access to basic word processing at home. (Lucky for me, Chas Proffitt is also the meeting coordinator for the LUG of Rochester and we had a chance to talk about volunteers from the LUG to help should this get rolling)
How big of an impact could we have by installing Linux on a few “EOL” computers? I don’t know yet, but the digital divide doesn’t need to exist when Puppy Linux and other light/fast Linux distros can bring 10 year old computers back to life.
Second, and high on my list, is the opportunity to reproduce the RIT class at a local Catholic High School. The school’s Director of Technology told me he bought an XO through Give one Get one, but hasn’t seen too much excitement in the school yet. He also told me there’s a desire to do more computer science type classes. Can you see how I was starting to get excited as we spoke? I love it when two problems can be addressed with a single solution.
And yes, of course I’ll post an update if there is more to report as a result of my time at NYSCATE.
That’s all for now,