Planet Fellowship (en)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Bullet points in PDF slideshows

the_unconventional's blog » English | 08:00, Tuesday, 30 September 2014

As many of you will know, using PDF instead of ODF and OOXML is usually the only way to achieve an acceptable level of interoperability, and most often guarantees that your documents look identical on every device you want to … Continue reading

Monday, 29 September 2014

How to advocate for Free Software in local politics

Being Fellow #952 of FSFE » English | 15:23, Monday, 29 September 2014

During the meeting in Essen, we had one work shop in which we discussed best practices for doing advocacy work on a local level. As local politics usually have different competences and regulations and vary a lot throughout Europe (they vary a lot inside Germany alone). It is impossible for FSFE staff to cover all this. A lot of work could be done by local groups like us though. The question we asked ourselves was: What do we need to help people getting active and promote Free Software in their neighborhood?

The condensed results of this workshop went into a wiki page where the thoughts and best practices will be available for everybody to learn and share their own experiences.

It includes topics like

  • How to establish the first contact with politicians
  • Who to contact first
  • staying in touch
  • What else you can do even if you are “in the middle of nowhere”
  • And a few more topics of interest for the local activist

So, please have a look, use, share and improve the page! (Non-Fellows may simply request write access to the wiki here or send me an email with the proposed changes).

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Setting Openstreetmap as default in Thunderbird’s contacts

Max's weblog » English | 10:40, Sunday, 28 September 2014

Thunderbird contact map buttonIf you use Thunderbird and its contact functionality, you might already have stumbled over the “show on map” feature. If you add addresses to your contacts (no matter if directly in Thunderbird or via CalDAV) there appears a button which enabled you to open a map with the contact’s location.

The default search provider is Google Maps. If you don’t like this service and prefer free and open systems like me, you can also add openstreetmap.org as your default map service. You only have to change a value in the advanced configuration.

Open the Settings menu, select the Advanced panel, select the General tab, and click Config Editor. Now copy in the search field: mail.addr_book.mapit_url.format and double click on the string to edit it.

You should now see the default value. It’s nothing more than an URL with variables defined by the street, the country or the postal code of the respective contact. If you want to use Openstreetmap, fill in this value:

https://www.openstreetmap.org/search?query=@A1+@A2+@CI+@ST+@ZI+@CO

Restart Thunderbird and test again with an existing contact. By clicking on the button you should now see OSM instead of Google Maps where you can select one of the results in the left sidebar. Congratulations!

Further reading:
For more information about Thunderbird’s config editor, see the official knowledgebase entry
If you want to set other variables in the map query, there’re some hints on Mozilla’s Hidden prefs guide

Friday, 26 September 2014

Getting Aqualung on Debian again

the_unconventional's blog » English | 17:00, Friday, 26 September 2014

I’ve been using Aqualung to play back my music ever since I can remember. While it’s not the prettiest, most user friendly music player, it far surpasses any other player I’ve ever come across until this very day. The gapless … Continue reading

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

ownCloud and free software in the cloud: Meet Frank Karlitschek in Open Space Aarhus

agger's Free Software blog | 15:50, Tuesday, 23 September 2014

I’m co-organizing this event, involving our hackerspace and the FSFE local group in Aarhus:

Frank Karlitschek, creator of ownCloud, will give a talk centering on ownCloud, free software in the enterprise and data protection in a post-Snowden world.

The talk will be followed by a discussion with the audience and a discussion panel consisting of:

  • Frank Karlitschek, Debian developer and creator of ownCloud
  • Christian Orellana, CEO of Cabo, a company that build enterprise clouds from free software
  • Carsten Agger, local group coordinator in Free Software Foundation Europe and software developer in Magenta, a company that specializes in free software mainly for the Danish public sector.

The event will take place in Open Space Aarhus on

Wednesday, October 1 at 18:00 hours

Do bring  a friend, this is going to be interesting!

 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Downloading e-books with Free Software

André on Free Software » English | 18:51, Monday, 22 September 2014

Today NRC brought the news: Bol.com and CPNB are coming with an e-book reader for everyone. Anyone who registers for a LeesID-account can read and administer books from several webshops in a digital bookcase.

LeesID also has it’s disadvantages:

  • LeesID is administering your books on it’s own computers;
  • LeesID knows what you are reading;
  • You have to log-in first;
  • No support for free operating systems.

Free Software offers you e-book readers such as Calibre and FBReader.

  • You administer your e-books yourself;
  • The developers do not know what you are reading;
  • You do not need to log-in;
  • Support for free operating systems;
  • A collection of DRM-free e-books.

The choice is up to you.

A guide to modern WordPress deployment (part 1)

Seravo | 12:00, Monday, 22 September 2014

Screen-Shot-2014-08-29-at-09.47.20

Seravo & WordPress

As a Linux and open source specialist company, Seravo provides services to many companies that run Linux in a web server. Not surprisingly, in many of these cases, the top-level software running on the server is of course, the world’s most popular CMS, WordPress. We love it!

In the process of administering and developing a number of WordPress sites for quite some time now, we’ve discovered an arsenal of useful ways to optimise and automate WordPress, some of which we’ve published right here on our blog:

Throughout 2014, we’ve expanded our WordPress expertise and in the process, combined our practices into a full WordPress deployment platform. We’re confident our solution is the next step forward from traditional WordPress hosting services.

In the spirit of openness in the WordPress community, we’re happy to present the details of our deployment platform and which technologies lie under it in this series of blog posts.

1. LXC – A full OS for every WordPress installation

As one of the starting points to our platform, we wanted every individual WordPress installation to have its own full Linux environment. Instead of going the traditional route to virtualisation with VMs seen in most generic hosting solutions, we chose a more recent technology called Linux containers or LXC for short.

Each WordPress instance resides within its own, robust Linux container which provides a lightweight, flexible way to sandbox applications. By using LXC as a means of virtualisation, we’ve greatly reduced the overhead required for hosting websites in a clustered environment, thus increasing overall server performance.

As each WordPress container is also a completely standalone system in itself, it has been extremely easy to clone and transfer instances between hosts and even other WordPress platforms.

2. Nginx, HHVM and MariaDB for amazing performance

Instead of a more traditional LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) environment. We utilised the newest in technologies for running WordPress.

  • Nginx, the fastest and most flexible HTTP server available
  • HHVM, a new and improved PHP engine developed and used by Facebook
  • MariaDB, a faster drop-in-replacement for MySQL server

The combination of these technologies enable us to offer WordPress performance unheard of when compared to LAMP environments. Additionally, all of these components are extremely configurable so that fine-tuning their performance could be a blog post all on its own.

3. Secure administration with TLS on SPDY/3.0

The drawbacks of building a HTTPS secured WordPress site have always been the inconvenience of acquiring an SSL certificate for each domain used and the increased server load from the additional computation required for secure protocols.

We didn’t want our users to throw away security for convenience, so we went in search for a solution.

First, we enabled the use of an open networking protocol called SPDY, which is the basis for the upcoming HTTP/2 protocol. SPDY/3 is already supported by all major browsers and offers a significant increase in server side performance in comparison to standard HTTPS. This allows us to effortlessly serve large amounts of secure HTTPS traffic with almost no performance penalty.

To avoid having to acquire separate SSL certificates for all our separate WordPress installations, we developed HTTPS Domain Alias – a WordPress plugin that allows the use of a separate domain name for wp-admin. All our clients now get their own subdomain for WordPress administration at *.seravo.fi, which can be securely accessed over HTTPS for a secure WordPress admin panel.

Stay tuned

We’ll be releasing part 2 of this series in the coming days, in which we discuss the management aspects of multiple WordPress installations and useful tools for general WordPress development and security.

More information for Finnish-speaking readers available at wordpress-palvelu.fi.

Friday, 19 September 2014

It’s a cold, cold day in hell…

the_unconventional's blog » English | 18:00, Friday, 19 September 2014

After many years of being as anti-GNU/Linux as humanly possible, Netflix - whose CEO is on the Microsoft board - finally seems to care about us. “Native” Netflix support is coming to GNU/Linux, after the community had pretty much given … Continue reading

Switching to true coreboot on the C720

the_unconventional's blog » English | 12:00, Friday, 19 September 2014

A lot of people seem to like my post about getting Debian to run on the Acer C720 Chromebook. I’m still using my C720 as a daily driver next to my PC, but I wanted to get rid of the … Continue reading

reSIProcate migration from SVN to Git completed

DanielPocock.com - fsfe | 06:47, Friday, 19 September 2014

This week, the reSIProcate project completed the move from SVN to Git.

With many people using the SIP stack in both open source and commercial projects, the migration was carefully planned and tested over an extended period of time. Hopefully some of the experience from this migration can help other projects too.

Previous SVN committers were tracked down using my script for matching emails to Github accounts. This also allowed us to see their recent commits on other projects and see how they want their name and email address represented when their previous commits in SVN were mapped to Git commits.

For about a year, the sync2git script had been run hourly from cron to maintain an official mirror of the project in Github. This allowed people to test it and it also allowed us to start using some Github features like travis-CI.org before officially moving to Git.

At the cut-over, the SVN directories were made read-only, sync2git was run one last time and then people were advised they could commit in Git.

Documentation has also been created to help people get started quickly sharing patches as Github pull requests if they haven't used this facility before.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Report from last FSFE meeting in Aschaffenburg, Germany

Being Fellow #952 of FSFE » English | 09:18, Thursday, 18 September 2014

This is going to be a condensed version of the German posting about the last Fellowship meeting in the Rhine/Main area. For the second time, we met in Aschaffenburg and we talked about the following topics:

Next time we’ll meet on Oct 1st in Frankfurt. See you there!

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Birthday Calendar with ownCloud via CalDAV

Max's weblog » English | 22:56, Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Thunderbird Lightning

Not a big issue in this blog post but an important one. Maybe I can save you some valuable time if you ever look for such a function.

As you know I’m a heavy user of ownCloud and you also might know that synchronisation is a big topic for me. And the third thing you should know that forgetting a good friend’s birthday really su… well, it’s no good style. This almost happened to me some days ago because I couldn’t check it on my Notebook with Thunderbird. My setup looks like this: All contacts (with birthday tags) in ownCloud, and these CardDAV address books are synced with my Android phone and Thunderbird/SOGo-Connector on my notebook, as well as the CalDAV calendars with Lightning.

For Android there are several free software apps which enable the inclusion of birthdays from your contacts into any calendar app. Some calendar apps even can do it theirselves. But for Thunderbird there are only some outdated add-ons. All of them don’t work with TB31 anymore and if you modify the install.rdf-file to make them run anyhow, they’re very buggy or just nonfunctional. And if you look in your ownCloud instance (where contacts’ birthdays are visible in the calendar tab) for a downloadable/syncable calendar you’ll reach the same conclusion like me: There is none.

But there is!
And I only detected it while digging in some github issue threads. This post contains the rescuing link to a CalDAV/ICS calendar in any ownCloud version (I tested it in 7.0.2). Just modify and use following address in any application which supports CalDAV sync:

http(s)://YOUR-OC-URL/remote.php/caldav/calendars/YOUR-USER/contact_birthdays

And you know what? It works like a charm! No need for external add-ons or apps, no need for manual creation of birthday reminders, no need for apologising for (almost) missed birthdays. I just wonder why ownCloud hasn’t included this in either the webpanel or the documentation. It’s a well-working feature since at least one year, so why not including it officially? And if it’s a calendar technically, then it should also be possible to disable displaying the contacts’ birthdays in the webpanel calendar app – a still non-existent “feature”.

So next time you have no excuse for forgetting a birthday – except for your ownCloud server’s outage ;)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Flowhub Kickstarter delivery

Henri Bergius | 00:00, Tuesday, 16 September 2014

It is now a year since our NoFlo Development Environment Kickstarter got funded. Since then our team together with several open source contributors has been busy building the best possible user interface for Flow-Based Programming.

When we set out on this crazy adventure, we still mostly had only NoFlo and JavaScript in mind. But there is nothing inherently language-specific in FBP or our UI, and so when people started making other runtimes compatible with the protocol we embraced the idea of full-stack flow-based programming.

Here is how the runtime registration screen looks with the latest release:

Flowhub Runtime Registration

This hopefully highlights a bit of the possibilities of what can be done with Flowhub right now. I know there are several other runtimes that are not yet listed there. We should have something interesting to announce in that space soon!

Live mode

The Flowhub release made today includes several interesting features apart from giving private repository access to our Kickstarter backers. One I'm especially happy about is what we call live mode.

The live mode, initially built by Lionel Landwerlin, enables Flowhub to discover and connect to running pieces of Flow-Based software running in different environments. With it you can monitor, debug, and modify applications without having to restart them!

We made a short demo video of this in action with Flowhub, Raspberry Pi and an NFC tag.

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/EdgeSDFd9p0" width="560"></iframe>

Getting started

Our backers should receive an email today with instructions on how to activate their Flowhub plans. For those who missed the Kickstarter, there should be another batch of Flowhub pre-orders available soon.

Just like with Travis and GitHub, Flowhub is free for open source development. So, everybody should be able to start using it immediately even without a plan.

If you have any questions about Flow-Based Programming or how to use Flowhub, please check out the various ways to get in touch on the NoFlo support page.

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Photo of the Month — 2014-09

emergency exit | 15:07, Saturday, 13 September 2014

With a minor delay, here is the photo of the month for September. It was taken this February in Zermatt, Switzerland.

It is a Panorama consisting of eight individual Portrait-orientated shots, stitched together with Hugin. Unfortunately (again) the size limitations of this blog prevent me from giving you a better resolution / quality. The original is 8512×4634 and roughly 200MB big.

Developing and editing was tricky on this one, and used the opportunity to learn about regional masks in Darktable. Before all editing, the stitch looked like this:

After the usual corrections (basecurve, lighting, local contrast), the picture looked like this:

As you can see, the snow on the Matterhorn itself was a little darker/greyer then the other snow which results in poor contrast with the surroundings, likely a result of different contrast in the original individual pictures. By creating a manually drawn mask around the Matterhorn and applying another brightness increase of about 0,10 EV just to the region the final photo is attained.
I love darktable, have I mentioned that?

Fixing mixed-layout OOXML files with LibreOffice

the_unconventional's blog » English | 14:00, Saturday, 13 September 2014

Yesterday, I wrote about how my friend received an unworkable macro-enabled OOXML file that failed to render accurately in LibreOffice. After a further analysis of the docm file, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the fact that LibreOffice’s rendering really … Continue reading

Friday, 12 September 2014

Making the best of MS Office files

the_unconventional's blog » English | 13:00, Friday, 12 September 2014

As a Free Software user, I obviously frown upon Microsoft Office file formats. Primarily because they claim to be open standards, when in practice Microsoft doesn’t implement their own specification appropriately. There is not a single piece of software in … Continue reading

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

KDE Akademy 2014 – Welcome, new KDE board!

Creative Destruction & Me » FLOSS | 15:05, Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Akademy 2014 is still in full swing in Brno in the Czech Republic with the traditional hack week that started on Monday. At about 200 participants it was well attended and organized. This years conference will very likely mark a milestone of change for KDE – a new board was elected, and a strategy discussion was started that will affect the direction and development of the KDE community for a decent amount of time. When I traveled home from Akademy 2014 on the train from Brno to Berlin, I personally felt a sense of satisfaction, because the community has managed to steer clear of the dangers of bike shedding about the board succession, and is accepting the change imposed by a shifting environment as a positive force.

Akademy 2014

Of the five positions of the KDE e.V. board, three were up for re-election. Lydia Pintscher’s first term on the board lapsed, and she ran for re-election. Marta Rybczyńska took over mid-term when Agustin Benito Bethencourt stepped down from the board, and stood for election for a regular board seat. Because of their proven commitment and steady hand, both won their seats with ease. Together with Albert Astal Cid and Pradeepto Bhattacharya they will provide the experience and continuity needed for the board to perform it’s function. The remaining board seat was contested between Jos Poortvliet and Aleix Pol, both long-standing and committed KDE community members. It was won in a tight race by Aleix Pol. He will bring his experience from building KDE Spain to the mothership of KDE e.V. Good luck to him and the whole new board, and many thanks to Jos for standing up for election.

A photo from the keynote by Sascha Meinrath

The new board is facing a number of challenges. Some are simply of operational nature, like finding a new office manager and other permanent staff. More significantly, there are some long-term shifts that need managing. In a time when Free Software contributions in an industrial setting are becoming more and more institutionalized, a volunteer driven, decentralized community like KDE has to adapt its ways of fundraising and attracting and retaining contributors. This is of course not the reponsibility of the board alone, but the board does set the tone and priorities as stewards. It is great and promising to see fresh and driven people joining the board, adding new attitudes and ways to get things done. I would like to extend ginormous amounts of gratefulness, thanks and hugging to Cornelius Schumacher, who stepped down from the board after serving on it for nine (9, sic!) years. For a long time, he has with his particular calm and well-reflected opinions been solid as a rock as the president of KDE e.V. He leaves pretty big shoes to fill for the new president.

Which leaves the question of what the structure of the new board is. It was announced to the KDE Community mailing list by Albert Astal Cid:

  • Pradeepto Bhattacharya – board member
  • Albert Astals Cid – board member
  • Aleix Pol – vice president
  • Marta Rybczynska – treasurer and vice president
  • Lydia Pintscher – president

Good luck again to all of them. Quite impressively, our board is 40% female, 60% male. With five board members an exact 50/50 ration is hard to achieve, so in my opinion, anything between forty and sixty percent should count as properly balanced, gender-wise. This again serves to illustrate the composition of contributors that makes KDE great.

The new board will need all the support from the KDE contributors that it can get. It may be worth to point out that all board members are volunteers and do not receive any remuneration for their work. If you want to pitch in and help, consider joining the kde-community@kde.org mailing list. If you are already a KDE contributor, you may want to ask to be a member of KDE e.V. And if you are a member, many thanks for your contributions, and keep going!


Filed under: Coding, CreativeDestruction, English, FLOSS, KDE, OSS, Qt Tagged: Akademy, Creative Destruction, FLOSS, free software communities, KDE, kde community, Open by Default, technology

Time to focus

Mario Fux | 09:53, Wednesday, 10 September 2014

As some of you probably already noticed I was much less active in KDE in the last weeks after the Randa Meetings (which were a big success and great: thanks all for this!) and I will disappear even more for the coming months.

Yesterday I had a discussion about my diploma thesis and what shall I say: it was ripped apart :-( . So I need to collect all my remaining energy and try to focus and try to safe my thesis. And if I should be able to get it accepted at the end of October the learning will start for the final exam phase from January to March 2015.

I’d have so many thoughts about KDE at the moment, so many ideas I’d like to write about and tell you and so many things I’d like to work on for and in KDE (you should see the pile of notes I made during the last months…) but this needs to wait now.

But expect me back, the earliest somewhen around the beginning of 2015. Good bye ;-(…

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Tuesday, 09 September 2014

xTupleCon WebRTC talk schedule change, new free event

DanielPocock.com - fsfe | 18:51, Tuesday, 09 September 2014

As mentioned in my earlier blog, I'm visiting several events in the US and Canada in October and November. The first of these, the talk about WebRTC in CRM at xTupleCon, has moved from the previously advertised timeslot to Wednesday, 15 October at 14:15.

WebRTC meeting, Norfolk, VA

Later that day, there will be a WebRTC/JavaScript meetup in Norfolk hosted at the offices of xTuple. It is not part of xTupleCon and free to attend. Please register using the Eventbrite page created by xTuple.

This will be a hands on event for developers and other IT professionals, especially those in web development, network administration and IP telephony. Please bring laptops and mobile devices with the latest versions of both Firefox and Chrome to experience WebRTC.

Free software developers at xTupleCon

If you do want to attend xTupleCon itself, please contact xTuple directly through this form for details about the promotional tickets for free software developers.

Setting up a network scanner with SANE

the_unconventional's blog » English | 15:00, Tuesday, 09 September 2014

Because I rarely use my printer/scanner any more, it didn’t make much sense to keep having it take up space on my desk while I have a Raspberry Pi fileserver in the attic. I could easily move my HP Photosmart … Continue reading

Monday, 08 September 2014

Free Software in Education News – August

Being Fellow #952 of FSFE » English | 23:42, Monday, 08 September 2014

Here’s what we collected in August. If you come accross anything that might be worth mentioning in this series, please drop me a note, dump it in this pad or drop it on the edu-eu mailinglist!

FSFE Edu-Team activities

As in the previous months, we continued the work on the education pages on fsfe.org. One task on this was to get permission from all contributors to the education leaflets to have them relicensed under cc-by-sa 4.0.

We decided that we will have our first meeting next year in Brussels around FOSDEM \o/

And as reported earlier in this blog, I participated in this years Froglabs at FrOSCon.

Edu software

Other news

Future events

Thanks to all contributors!

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Friday, 05 September 2014

How to produce defensive publications

Hugo - FSFE planet | 07:33, Friday, 05 September 2014

Last month, I introduced what defensive publications are: documents describing something (a new feature, a new algorithm, a new system) in order to prevent further patents.

Defensive publications are needed because on the one hand, even when the source code is available to the public, it is not necessarily accessible to the patent office examiner who’s reviewing patent applications. This is why we submit defensive publications to their databases: it makes the review process more aware of what free software projects develop.

On the other hand, while pushing code to a public repository is easy for a project contributor, writing and submitting a defensive publication is not as straightforward.

On of my goals is to help fix this, so that producing defensive publications gets as easy as possible for Free Software projects. So, during this month, amongst other patent-related activities, I published a first version the a defensive publication template on Github. Hopefully, I will be able to improve on this version and push other useful things for the whole Linux Defenders programme. Your feedback would be very appreciated!

A prior observation before explaining how the template works: obviously, writing defensive publications is not a developer’s top priority. But writing a defensive publication is not something that can be left entirely to lawyers (although we can help). Writing a defensive publication requires insights on:

  • how the code works, how the system is designed
  • how other solutions, especially prior solutions and current trends develop

For this reason, developers are in a privileged position to write defensive publications. The situation is not entirely unlike that of writing documentation. Writing documentation is probably not a developer’s favourite task (and indeed the state of some documentation is evidence of this). However, we know that a good documentation is also a sign of a project’s health and so we make process and tools to facilitate this task. Fortunately, writing a defensive publication is not much different from writing documentation, and so we should be able to kill two birds with one stone.

How does it work?

Once you have identified some part of your software that you want to write a defensive publication about:

  1. Download and extract the template

    The README should guide you. Especially, you can find examples of things to use to start your own publication, such as figures, flowcharts, etc.

  2. Update variables like:

    TITLE
    PROJECT
    URL
    DESCRIPTION
    TAGS
    

    (I’ll probably write a script to automate that…)

  3. Create an abstract.yaml file in src/ (you can one from the example/ directory) and also update the tags. You can edit the abstract itself, later at the end.

    This will later appear on the list of http://defensivepublications.org.

  4. You can start writing your document in src/ - You can write in any format provided that you are able to produce a PDF at the end so we can submit it to the patent office. Right now the template is very much focused around pandoc which is able to convert a lot of different kinds of texts, like Markdown to LaTeX. You can follow the README.

As you see, it’s a bit rudimentary now, but the idea behind with this template is that you should be able to take relevant bits of your documentation and integrate them directly into your defensive publication’s source files. Then you can use pandoc to combine all the files together in the relevant order.

That way you don’t have to duplicate content, but rather you reuse relevant parts of your documentation that describe your software for the defensive publication.

Once you’ve done that, you need to write the abstract and probably write an introduction if you need to give more details. Another part to introduce your publication can be a description of the current state of the art relevant to your software: basically, what’s the problem your software solves and how other solutions try to address this problem in your field.

The template comes with a file example/template.pdf that should guide you through the different parts that make a defensive publication.

Get involved with us

If you are interested in writing a defensive publication or have more questions, don’t hesitate to join #linuxdefenders on the IRC freenode server.

Also, I’m very much interested in your feedback. What’s your opinion? What do you need to write a defensive publication as easily as possible?


Next month, I should be able to show an example from defensive publications, with additional explanation and comments!

Wednesday, 03 September 2014

Brown Dogs and Barbers: Exclusive samples hot off the press!

Computer Floss | 09:21, Wednesday, 03 September 2014

  • PDF (this is identical in layout the paperback version)
  • eBook
  • Mobi

We live in exciting times. My book, Brown Dogs and Barbers (which explains computer science to just about anyone who can read), is very close to publication.

The funding drive over the last few months raised enough to produce a professionally designed paperback and ebook, complete with crisp design, beautiful diagrams and an insanely cute front cover. It will be available to buy in places like Amazon and iTunes later this month.

Until then, you can follow the links above to get hold of a sample of the final book…

… and behold the front cover!

Cover_Brown_Dogs_and_Barbers_epub_Kindle

Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Teckids workshops at FrOSCon9 – robots, python games and Blender

Being Fellow #952 of FSFE » English | 22:40, Tuesday, 02 September 2014

More than 60 kids from 9 to 13 participated at this years FrogLab workshops at FrOSCon in Sankt Augustin, Germany. The demand was so high that many interested kids had to be rejected as the group would have gotten too big to ensure that they’d be supervised responsibly.

As announced, the FSFE supported the project financially and with manpower. Unfortunately, it was only me at the end who actually found his way to FroSCon to help in person.

Most kids arrived on Friday afternoon, but as I joined them on Saturday morning, I can only report from the last two days of the event. It started with a quick introduction to the command line. The kids were divided into three groups for this. After lunch they could choose which workshop to attend:

The Blender group during the introduction

The Blender group during the introduction

  • programming Freedroidz robots
  • programming game with Python
  • creating animated 3D movies with Blender

Although I attended a few Freedroidz workshops in the past, I was assigned to the Blender group. As I haven’t had a look at Blender before, I had the pleasure to learn the basics of this feature rich Free Software just like all the other participants in the group from our twelve year old tutor, Robin.

It was a lot of fun to work with this group of interested bright kids and youths and watch them learn.

 

Exercise on the bouncing castle

Exercise on the bouncing castle

As a dad of two kids myself, I was remarkably impressed by the organizers that they striclty enforced breaks with exercises, provided a lot of fresh fruits and prohibited all kinds of candy, period.

On Sunday afternoon, the results of the three workshops were presented to the whole group together with the parents who came just for that. The other two workshops were also tutored by kids. According to the results presented, they’ve done a very good job as well. I’ll try to get some of the many pictures that were taken during the presentation to add them here. Until then, you may have a look at Teckids e. V. for a report of the event which is supposed to show up there soon.

First steps with Blender

First steps with Blender

After all that work the organizers spent to make this aweome event so succesfull, we can’t begrudge them a little break for a few weeks. :)

If you want to support the Teckids e.V, please let us know! The next similar event is already planned for OpenRheinRuhr in November this year. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend that one, but this was definetely not the last Froglabs for me!

 

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Internet (un)governance in Turkey

Don't Panic » English Planet | 09:32, Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Do you remember the protests around #GeziPark in Istanbul, Turkey, in June 2013? People were heavily using Twitter and other social media to mobilize and organize an opposition against Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government. Since then, the Internet is … Continue reading

Friday, 29 August 2014

Welcoming libphonenumber to Debian and Ubuntu

DanielPocock.com - fsfe | 08:02, Friday, 29 August 2014

Google's libphonenumber is a universal library for parsing, validating, identifying and formatting phone numbers. It works quite well for numbers from just about anywhere. Here is a Java code sample (C++ and JavaScript also supported) from their web site:


String swissNumberStr = "044 668 18 00";
PhoneNumberUtil phoneUtil = PhoneNumberUtil.getInstance();
try {
  PhoneNumber swissNumberProto = phoneUtil.parse(swissNumberStr, "CH");
} catch (NumberParseException e) {
  System.err.println("NumberParseException was thrown: " + e.toString());
}
boolean isValid = phoneUtil.isValidNumber(swissNumberProto); // returns true
// Produces "+41 44 668 18 00"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.INTERNATIONAL));
// Produces "044 668 18 00"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.NATIONAL));
// Produces "+41446681800"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.E164));

This is particularly useful for anybody working with international phone numbers. This is a common requirement in the world of VoIP where people mix-and-match phones and hosted PBXes in different countries and all their numbers have to be normalized.

About the packages

The new libphonenumber package provides support for C++ and Java users. Upstream also supports JavaScript but that hasn't been packaged yet.

Using libphonenumber from Evolution and other software

Lumicall, the secure SIP/ZRTP client for Android, has had libphonenumber from the beginning. It is essential when converting dialed numbers into E.164 format to make ENUM queries and it is also helpful to normalize all the numbers before passing them to VoIP gateways.

Debian includes the GNOME Evolution suite and it will use libphonenumber to improve handling of phone numbers in contact records if enabled at compile time. Fredrik has submitted a patch for that in Debian.

Many more applications can potentially benefit from this too. libphonenumber is released under an Apache license so it is compatible with the Mozilla license and suitable for use in Thunderbird plugins.

Improving libphonenumber

It is hard to keep up with the changes in dialing codes around the world. Phone companies and sometimes even whole countries come and go from time to time. Numbering plans change to add extra digits. New prefixes are created for new mobile networks. libphonenumber contains metadata for all the countries and telephone numbers that the authors are aware of but they also welcome feedback through their mailing list for anything that is not quite right.

Now that libphonenumber is available as a package, it may be helpful for somebody to try and find a way to split the metadata from the code so that metadata changes could be distributed through the stable updates catalog along with other volatile packages such as anti-virus patterns.

EasyMega v1.0

Bits from the Basement | 03:12, Friday, 29 August 2014

Keith and I are pleased to announce the immediate availability of EasyMega v1.0!

EasyMega is effectively a TeleMega without the GPS receiver and radio telemetry system. TeleMega and EasyMega both have 6 pyro channels and enough sensors to lock out pyro events based on conditions like tilt-angle from vertical, making both boards ideal solutions for complex projects with air start or multi-stage engine ignition requirements. Choose TeleMega for a complete in-airframe solution including radio telemetry and GPS, or EasyMega if you already have a tracking solution you like and just need intelligent control of multiple pyro events.

EasyMega is 2.25 x 1.25 inches (57.15 x 31.75 mm), which means it can be easily mounted in a 38 mm air frame coupler. The list price for EasyMega is $300, but as an introductory special, you can purchase one now through Labor Day for only $250! This special is only good for in-person purchases at Airfest and orders placed directly through Bdale's web store.

Altus Metrum products are available directly from Bdale's web store, and from these distributors:

All Altus Metrum products are completely open hardware and open source. The hardware design details and all source code are openly available for download, and advanced users are invited to join our developer community and help to enhance and extend the system. You can learn more about Altus Metrum products at http://altusmetrum.org.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The KDE Randa 2014 meeting, in easy-digestible video format!

Creative Destruction & Me » FLOSS | 08:00, Thursday, 28 August 2014

In case you were wondering what was going on in Randa, here are some first hand impressions. The video was produced by Françoise Wybrecht (alias Morgane Marquis) and Lucie Robin, and the people in it are the actual participants of the event. It was also created using KDenlive, one of the awesome Free Software tools a team has been working on at the Randa meeting itself. The video introduces the faces and personalities of the contributors and their different backgrounds and origins. Many thanks to our brand new ad-hoc media team for producing this video!

<iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="312" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/yua6M9jqoEk?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="500"></iframe>

(In case the embedded video does not show up, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yua6M9jqoEk)


Filed under: Coding, CreativeDestruction, English, FLOSS, KDE, OSS, Qt Tagged: Creative Destruction, FLOSS, free software communities, KDE

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Turn any computer into a wireless access point with Hostapd

Seravo | 15:25, Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Linux hotspotDo you want to make a computer function as a WLAN base station, so that other computers can use as it as their wifi access point? This can easily be done using the open source software Hostapd and compatible wifi hardware.

This is a useful thing to do if computer acting as a firewall or as a server in the local network, and you want to avoid adding new appliances that all require their own space and cables in you already crowded server closet. Hostapd enables you to have full control of your WLAN access point and also enhances security. By using Hostapd the system will be completely in your control, every line of code can be audited and the source of all software can be verified and all software can be updated easily. It is quite common that active network devices like wifi access points are initially fairly secure small appliances with Linux inside, but over time their vendors don’t provide timely security updates and local administrators don’t care to install them via some clumsy firmware upgrade mechanism. With a proper Linux server admins can easily SSH into it and run upgrades using the familiar and trusted upgrade channels that Linux server distributions provide.

The first step in creating wireless base station with Hostapd is to make sure the WLAN hardware supports running in access point mode. Examples are listed in the hostapd documentation. A good place to shop for WLAN cards with excellent Linux drivers is thinkpenguin.com and in their product descriptions the WLAN card supported operation modes are nicely listed.

The next step is to install the software called Hostapd by Jouni Malinen and others. This is a very widely used software and it most likely is available in your Linux distribution by default. Many of the WLAN router appliances available actually are small Linux computers running hostapd inside, so by running hostapd on a proper Linux computer will give you at least all the features available in the WIFI routers, including advanced authentication and logging.

Our example commands are for Ubuntu 14.04. You need to have access to install hostapd and dnsmasq Dnsmasq is a small DNS/DHCP server which we’ll use in this setup. To start simply run:

sudo apt-get install hostapd dnsmasq

After that you need to create and edit the configuration file:

zcat /usr/share/doc/hostapd/examples/hostapd.conf.gz | sudo tee -a   /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf

The configuration file /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf is filled with configuration examples and documentation in comments. The relevant parts for a simple WPA2 protected 802.11g  network with the SSID ‘Example-WLAN‘ and password ‘PASS‘ are:

interface=wlan0
ssid=Example-WLAN
hw_mode=g
wpa=2
wpa_passphrase=PASS
wpa_key_mgmt=WPA-PSK WPA-EAP WPA-PSK-SHA256 WPA-EAP-SHA256

Next you need to edit the network interfaces configuration to force the WLAN card to only run in the access point mode. Assuming that the access point network will use the address space 192.168.8.* the file /etc/network/interfaces should look something like this:

# interfaces(5) file used by ifup(8) and ifdown(8)
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet static
hostapd /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf
address 192.168.8.1
netmask 255.255.255.0

Then we need to have a DNS relay and DHCP server on our wlan0 interface so the clients actually get a working Internet connection, and this can be accomplished by configuring dnsmasq. Like hostapd it also has a very verbose configuration file /etc/dnsmasq.conf, but the relevant parts look like this:

interface=lo,wlan0
no-dhcp-interface=lo
dhcp-range=192.168.8.20,192.168.8.254,255.255.255.0,12h

Next we need to make sure that the Linux kernel forwards traffic from our wireless network onto other destination networks. For that you need to edit the file /etc/sysctl.conf and make sure it has lines like this:

net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

We need to activate NAT in the built-in firewall of Linux to make sure the traffic going out uses the external address as its source address and thus can be routed back. It can be done for example by appending the following line to the file /etc/rc.local:

iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s 192.168.8.0/24 ! -d 192.168.8.0/24  -j MASQUERADE

Some WLAN card hardware might have a virtual on/off switch. If you have such hardware you might need to also run rfkill to enable the hardware using a command like rfkill unblock 0.

The same computer also runs Network Manager (as for example Ubuntu does by default) you need to edit it’s settings so that if won’t interfere with the new wifi access point. Make sure file /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf looks like this:

[main]
plugins=ifupdown,keyfile,ofono
dns=dnsmasq
 
[ifupdown]
managed=false

Now all configuration should be done. To be sure all changes take effect, finish by rebooting the computer.

If everything is working, a new WLAN network should be detected by other devices.
On the WLAN-server you’ll see similar output from these commands:

$ iw wlan0 info
Interface wlan0
        ifindex 3
        type AP
        wiphy 0

$ iwconfig 
wlan0     IEEE 802.11bgn  Mode:Master  Tx-Power=20 dBm   
          Retry  long limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Power Management:off

$ ifconfig
wlan0     Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr f4:ec:38:de:c8:d2  
          inet addr:192.168.8.1  Bcast:192.168.8.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
          inet6 addr: fe80::f6ec:38ff:fede:c8d2/64 Scope:Link
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:5463040 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:8166528 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000 
          RX bytes:861148382 (861.1 MB)  TX bytes:9489973056 (9.4 GB)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

GSoC talks at DebConf 14 today

DanielPocock.com - fsfe | 16:33, Tuesday, 26 August 2014

This year I mentored two students doing work in support of Debian and free software (as well as those I mentored for Ganglia).

Both of them are presenting details about their work at DebConf 14 today.

While Juliana's work has been widely publicised already, mainly due to the fact it is accessible to every individual DD, Andrew's work is also quite significant and creates many possibilities to advance awareness of free software.

The Java project that is not just about Java

Andrew's project is about recursively building Java dependencies from third party repositories such as the Maven Central Repository. It matches up well with the wonderful new maven-debian-helper tool in Debian and will help us to fill out /usr/share/maven-repo on every Debian system.

Firstly, this is not just about Java. On a practical level, some aspects of the project are useful for many other purposes. One of those is the aim of scanning a repository for non-free artifacts, making a Git mirror or clone containing a dfsg branch for generating repackaged upstream source and then testing to see if it still builds.

Then there is the principle of software freedom. The Maven Central repository now requires that people publish a sources JAR and license metadata with each binary artifact they upload. They do not, however, demand that the sources JAR be complete or that the binary can be built by somebody else using the published sources. The license data must be specified but it does not appeared to be verified in the same way as packages inspected by Debian's legendary FTP masters.

Thanks to the transitive dependency magic of Maven, it is quite possible that many Java applications that are officially promoted as free software can't trace the source code of every dependency or build plugin.

Many organizations are starting to become more alarmed about the risk that they are dependent upon some rogue dependency. Maybe they will be hit with a lawsuit from a vendor stating that his plugin was only free for the first 3 months. Maybe some binary dependency JAR contains a nasty trojan for harvesting data about their corporate network.

People familiar with the principles of software freedom are in the perfect position to address these concerns and Andrew's work helps us build a cleaner alternative. It obviously can't rebuild every JAR for the very reason that some of them are not really free - however, it does give the opportunity to build a heat-map of trouble spots and also create a fast track to packaging for those heirarchies of JARs that are truly free.

Making WebRTC accessible to more people

Juliana set out to update rtc.debian.org and this involved working on JSCommunicator, the HTML5/JavaScript softphone based on WebRTC.

People attending the session today or participating remotely are advised to set up your RTC / VoIP password at db.debian.org well in advance so the server will allow you to log in and try it during the session. It can take 30 minutes or so for the passwords to be replicated to the SIP proxy and TURN server.

Please also check my previous comments about what works and what doesn't and in particular, please be aware that Iceweasel / Firefox 24 on wheezy is not suitable unless you are on the same LAN as the person you are calling.

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