Archive for the ‘TOS’ Category
Late last week I had the opportunity to check in with RIT to see how student projects were coming along. To my surprise, the Fortune Hunter team has plans to push out a release by the end of the year. But to do that, they recognize that they need to push development beyond the borders of RIT and actively recruit from the FOSS community as a whole.
First, I should say that Fortune Hunter is a dungeon scenario role playing game where players navigate a series of rooms, collect items and battle various creatures by solving math problems.
Though I’d have to say that one of my favorite concepts in the game is the shop. The idea is that if the player wants to barter for special items they must deal with the shopkeeper in a realistic manner. Offer too little money and you’ll get snubbed. Offer too much and the shopkeeper will gladly take the money and use it against you later on.
So what does the Fortune Hunter team need? Truthfully they need Artists and Pythonistas who can elevate the code quality. Jon writes -
What would actually be extremely helpful would be some programmers. Currently, the team is lacking any experts in that realm and to be honest, they would probably save us a whole lot of time and help us progress much further to push and get more done.
Jon compiled a short list of needs and promised that there would be more organization to the project to help new contributors and the project reach it’s release goal.
If you, or someone you know could help get this release out, please don’t hesitate to contact Jon and the team. You can get details in the Fortune Hunter wiki and you can get copies of the game in the GIT repo if you’d like to test the game and Fortune Maker engine.
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.
For those who are interested in the slide deck, I’ve uploaded them to the Fedora Wiki.
As you can see from this picture it has girl-y goodness through out. Why so girl-y for this talk? It has nothing to do with the topic. It’s not from a girl point of view, or for any other psychological reason. I just liked it and never use the same background twice. Each presentation is Unique. So watch for the next upload for something new to look at.
List of embedded links are below for ease of clicking. And feel free to leave comments below if you have questions about the presentation.
On general community Etiquette
This morning I was able to attend the first session of RIT’s Humanitarian FOSS class.
As some of you know, the class has been running since Spring of 2009, but this time around it seemed like a much better start than we’ve had over the previous quarters the class is run.
While I’d like to point you to the one thing that has me feeling more positive about the course, the truth is, there isn’t one thing.
Instead, it’s lots of little things that have morphed into what looks like it’s going to be a well oiled machine. Of course I know that won’t be the case because there will be things to work on no matter how well the class goes.
But still, I walked away feeling really positive and energized about this quarters syllabus and the students in the class. I’m really psyched about the newly regrouped Pythonistas and Rochester OLPC user group being combined to better support the class.
Next Tuesday I’ll be giving a short guest lecture on FOSS Community mores. It will cover some basics like using IRC and what we feel is effective communication. I’ve also been asked to work “How to tell if a FLOSS project is doomed to FAIL” into the slides as well.
I’ll post my slides when I get them done, so watch for those on the TOS wiki.
No I hadn’t seen it yet, but MS is losing ground to companies like Google and their “Don’t be Evil” stance on business. So how does a company become less evil? They start finding projects for the good of the order and shout it from the rooftops every time they do something that’s even a little bit generous.
It’s actually very cleaver of them from a marketing point of view. They know that they still have market and mind share and while the majority of their clientele isn’t looking at FOSS, they’re adopting some FOSS like programs to soften up their image.
The biggest thing to consider is the basics of business. Throwing money at a problem isn’t usually an effective solution. Yes, MS has lots and lots of money to solve problems with, but FOSS has enough momentum now that no matter what MS does they can’t regain the ground they’ve lost. Their only hope is to slow the exodus now that there is a public awareness of alternatives and that the choices aren’t half bad.
My best advice – remember there is choice. When things like this come up, remind people that the HFOSS project has been doing this same thing for a while now. When MS wants to talk Education, bring up OLPC and such. Yes, it’s good that they’re putting money to good use, but they didn’t invent some of these ideas, nor are they the only players on the field.
It no longer has to be about how FOSS is like commercial, but it can be about how commercial has to be like FOSS and behave like human beings to remain relevant in the changing tech environment.
One harsh reality of On-Disk.com is that while ISOs are fresh, business is booming. But, 3 months after a release, those who wanted the latest and greatest the Linux world has to offer probably have it. Then after about 4 months, those who haven’t gotten it will most likely wait a couple of months and get the next release.
This August, however, I will be giving a talk at LinuxCon. Yes, it’s going to be a fun time in a great city, but by then it’s past the 4 month mark and we won’t have lots of extra money to spend on the trip.
A solution to our slow summer months presented itself this year with some casual employment as a corporate trainer with Eagle Productivity Solutions.
- for my first week on the road that I’d be in Pontiac MI.
- that a very recent Twitter follower would be on the Michigan!/usr/groupboard.
- the MUG meeting would fall on my off night between my two training sessions.
- to talk a few minutes about my role as a community hacker.
I didn’t have anything prepared, in fact, I can confidently say I was the only person in the room who opted to pack a lipstick rather than a laptop.
The talk was very casual. A bit about how I got into FOSS, and how someone who avoids the terminal window at all cost could be qualified to give a talk to hard core Unix and Linux users.
But I think I got my point across. That point of course being that the community is key. Using is one thing, but involvement is a whole other ball of wax.
I suppose the most important thing that came out of the talk was a question from a member asking “how do you/I/we get involved?”
My answer was to take these notions that someone should do something – about anything really – and take 10 seconds to seriously consider being that someone. No one would hold their feet to the fire if they opted out of helping, but if they could get into the habit of weighing the pros and cons of involvement, they might find something to become passionate about.
There are a lot of needs and a lot of really good projects out there that do so much more than pump out fresh ISOs. The best part is that at this point it’s not just grand ideas. There are functioning groups out there so I did talk a little about TeachingOpenSource.org and the Math4 project class that has spawned FOSS@RIT and the chain of events that those projects lead to.
Most importantly, I tried to show how little ideas and passionate people help bring FOSS out to those who can benefit from open code.
This morning I received an email saying that John Resig, creator of JQuery is going to visit RIT this week. I’m excited to meet him and am sure that our FOSS mixer Thursday evening in the Innovations center is going to have a nice mix of people. (Visit the Facebook Event for details)
The other thing the email reminded reminded me of is a trend I’ve been seeing in little bits and pieces over the past year or so… That RIT has some very talented alumni that have gone on to be leaders in the FOSS Community.
So the question I’m struggling with this morning, is why me? Why didn’t the ball get rolling for RIT to Teach Open Source Development techniques until I helped push it? I don’t doubt that RIT would have formalized it’s FOSS development coursework at some point, but why did the push have to come from me when there could have been so many others leading the charge?
People who not only had more clout in the FOSS community, but connections at RIT.
To clarify, I’m not a student at RIT. I’m not on staff at RIT. The FOSS community isn’t waiting with baited breath to hear what I might say next, so, again, why was my participation a key component?
But what does one talk about with the father of the Free Software Movement?
Freedom of course!
While this post will read as if we had a long and fruitful debate, the truth is I changed the subject when I realized that he was unbending and not willing to accept any observations other than his own. So my observation that there is a hypocritical element to his position was getting nowhere fast.
Steve tried to interject for clarification since we were discussing such a small nuance to “freedom” but even that was met with inflexibility. In fact he repeated his wording exactly as he had before Steve’s question.
Here’s the issue as I see it…
Freedom is an inalienable right. I also believe wholeheartedly that if you have a restriction of any kind you don’t have true freedom.
I also understand that true freedom is rare and elusive. Laws, taxes, social mores and such are all limiting factors. You can have some freedoms, like the freedom of speech, but I also don’t believe the US is a Free country when there are so many questionable laws still on the books (yes, Patriot act, I’m talking about you and your sleezy friends!)
You should also understand that I’m all for of some laws and mores. For instance, when we all know what side of the street to drive on, its good for everyone. You would also misunderstand this blog post if you come away thinking that I dislike the GPL and/or the Free Software Movement. The fact is I’m a fan and have deep respect for the movement as a whole.
As I see it, if you’re going to explain to a crowded room that you can’t…
… call something piracy because it didn’t attack any boats;
… use the term “Intellectual Property” because it refers to multiple laws;
… call an Operating system Linux because the Linux Kernel wasn’t fully effective without the rest of the GNU operating system and vice versa…
Then you must absolutely be certain that you’re not acting hypocritically when it comes to the use of the term “Freedom.”
For me, the question is, how can software really be “free, as in Freedom” when there are restrictions built into it’s license?
Stallman’s stance is that he respects your freedom, but in return you must respect the freedom of others. Then he explained that share alike/copyleft clauses needed to be included because he didn’t want to lose ground. To open up a code base only to have it taken away again isn’t an acceptable situation.
I say that’s a risk you have to take if you’re going to insist that what you’re trying to do is make all software free.
Freedom always comes with a choice. When you have good information and care about the outcomes, you always make the right decision for you. Besides, if information or desired outcomes change, you always have the option to make new choices.
So if you’re to ask for a simple clarification – the Four Essential Freedoms outlined in the Free Software definition do define freedom. However this Free software definition points out that there’s a flaw in copyleft when it states,
“For example, copyleft (very simply stated) is the rule that when redistributing the program, you cannot add restrictions to deny other people the central freedoms. This rule does not conflict with the central freedoms; rather it protects them.”
It’s cleverly written and on quick glance you think “oh it’s about not adding restrictions, that’s Kosher.” But it brings you back to reality when you see that it’s a rule (aka restriction) that needs to be clarified in the second sentence of the quote.
Conflict or not, rules are restrictions and restrictions limit freedom.
Am I the only one seeing this as wordplay and a form of restricting Freedom?
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.