Skip to main content

4 posts tagged with "conference"

View All Tags

· One min read
zach wick

On the plane back from LibrePlanet 2014, I have tried to put together a debrief, but as I am running on about three hours of sleep, I am not sure how coherent these thoughts will end up being.

I always leave LibrePlanet feeling very inspired and ready to go forth and hack on even more. In retrospect, it is strange, and kind of sad maybe, that what I do for a day job is not this inspiring. I thoroughly enjoy what I do though, so maybe this phenomenon occurs only because LibrePlanet is especially inspiring.

Once again, LibrePlanet afforded me the opportunity to interact with people in the flesh that I usually only interact with via email or IRC. And of course, I also met lots of new people who are working on even cooler projects.

I am eagerly awaiting all the talks having their recordings posted so that I can watch the talks that I had to pass up in order to attend other talks (or give my own).

I am very grateful to the staff, volunteers, and attendees that made LibrePlanet a success, and I am looking forward to next year.

· 2 min read
zach wick

Two weeks ago I attended PyOhio 2013 – It was freaking awesome! I had high hopes for PyOhio as the last conference that I attended was LibrePlanet (which was also fantastic), and PyOhio did not fail to deliver.

In addition to listening to some really cool talks, I got to give a (hopefully cool) talk on what I work on all day – The talks that were presented were on a wide array of Python-centric topics and ranged from “novice” to “expert” in subject matter. The people at PyOhio were just as interesting as the talks. I met one person from LightSide, who is doing text analysis on student’s papers. I met another person who is a developer on Firefox for Android and picked his brain on porting GNU Icecat to Android. There was another persom that I met who works for Canonical on one of their webapps – It was great to trade “war stories” and talk shop.

My talk on a Python FUSE layer for went rather well, and for interested people, there is a video posted at PyVideo and YouTube.

I will definitely be going to PyOhio 2014, and will even try to come up with an exciting Python project to talk about.

· 3 min read
zach wick

Towards the end of March, I attended LibrePlanet 2013 in Boston, MA. This was a weekend conference put on by the Free Software Foundation that was all about free software and bringing together members of the various free software communities. It was a fantastic weekend! I attended a few talks, and a workshop/install party, and learned a bunch.

Thursday evening, I met some people for dinner that I had only ever know from IRC. Little did I realize that this was going to be the case all weekend!

Friday morning I explored Cambridge, Harvard’s campus, and MIT’s campus. Then after a quick lunch, I took the T downtown to work out of the Free Software Foundation’s office. While it was kind of strange to putz away on my day job work from a place that would frown on what I do for my day job, it went very well, and I met even more people in person that I had only known from IRC.

Friday evening there was a meet-and-greet at the FSF office, where once again, meeting IRC people in the flesh was the order of the day.

Saturday began the "actual" conference, and I walked to the Harvard Science Center with much enthusiasm. After a breakfast and some quick conversations, it was off to the talks and workshops!

One of the talks that I attended was on the recently passed MA Right-to-Repair law. The talk was generally about the free software that may (or may not be) in cars, and how recent legislation is driving more people towards free software.

Another talk that I attended was on IceCat and LibreJS. IceCat is a GNU project that is a web browser based off of Mozilla Firefox with all the Mozilla branded stripped out, and added privacy features. LibreJS is a Firefox/Icecat/Iceweasel plugin that allows users to avoid the “javascript trap” of running non-free javascript on their machines. These two projects are near and dear to me as I hack on them, but it was very nice to meet my collaborators in person.

I also attended a talk by Stefano Zacchiroli, the current Debian Project Leader, about what the Debian Project is doing to become a Free Software Foundation endorsed distro. This talk, and some of the discussions afterwards, were the catalyst that made me change from my beloved Arch GNU/Linux to Debian GNU/Linux on my main machines.

Then of course there were the Free Software Awards, preceeded by a talk from rms (Richard M. Stallman, Founder of the GNU Project and FSF). The talk was what I expected, and the awards were given to deserving projects.

I also went to the workshop/install party for Replicant and Coreboot. Replicant is an Android fork that has of the non-free parts taken out, as well as all the Google specific parts. The end result is a cell phone that runs on (mostly) free software. There are still some non-free firmware bits, but that is almost unavoidable. The second part of this install party pertained to Coreboot. Coreboot is a BIOS replacement that is entirely free software. While my machine is not able to run Coreboot, it was pretty cool to talk with one of the developers of Coreboot and learn more about how BIOS’s actually work.

In the end, LibrePlanet 2013 was a great experience. I learned a lot about various free software projects and free software in general. I will definitely be going back next year.

· 2 min read
zach wick

Last weekend I had the privilege of volunteering, along with about 60 other people, at Ann Arbor Give Camp. Essentially, a Give Camp is a weekend hackathon where non-profits with a technical need (website, analytics tool, donation tracking, etc.) that they do not have the budget for, get volunteer developers to fill that need with some awesomely cool project. The project that I worked on was updating the design of the website and implementing a membership directory for a contractor's association.

Give Camp is different from any other hackathon that I have ever been too. First, you aren’t building a project just because it has cool technical merit or because it might be a viable business. You are building some project because some do-good organization needs it to do more/better good works. Also, Give Camp is different in that you are building a technical project for a group that (probably) isn’t very technically savvy. This fact tested both my patience when teaching our non-profit representative how to use the new system, and my design skills. I was challenged to come up with simpler wording on administration options, a more intuitive layout, and a streamlined workflow for the most common use case.

Give Camp also got me out of my personal tech bubble. I was unaware that there where people who self-identified as “.NET Developers” – Based on the make-up of my group, they are orders of magnitude more plentiful than I thought! That same revelation also made me see that a person could in fact do serious development on a Windows machine. I guess that I knew that these things existed, I just never encounter them in my days as a web developer/embedded systems developer.

My weekend at Give Camp was an amazing experience. It felt good to do good, and I got out of my tech bubble. I would recommend that anybody in the Ann Arbor area volunteer at next year's Give Camp, and for those elsewhere, I would absolutely advocate that you look for a Give Camp near you.