Countdown to FOSDEM!!

The countdown has begun! Today, I am doing laundry, and cleaning out the fridge & the house just in general, in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Brussels & FOSDEM 2012! Kevin & I will be flying out of Columbus on thursday afternoon and thus arriving in Brussels, friday morning ~8am. Most of friday will be spent wandering around Brussels before attending the FOSDEM Beer Party that evening, FOSDEM on Saturday & Sunday, and then another day of exploring Belgium before flying back on Tuesday morning. It’ll be a quick, but hopefully fun & productive trip.

I keep going over the schedule at FOSDEM, going back and forth on what I want to attend, as there are so many fascinating sounding events! I’m pretty sure I want to attend ¬†Transifex: Localizing your application (mostly since I’m currently taking a class on multilingual translation systems) , but otherwise, I really have no definitive plans. I’m sure I’ll figure it all out once I’m there though, and suspect that I’m better off having few definitive plans so that I can be flexible for when I hear about something especially cool. Anyhow, I am super excited – to be attending FOSDEM, to be traveling, and to be kid-free for the first time in nearly 5 yrs! (Kevin’s mom has agreed to watch our boys while we’re gone – to which I can only say Thank You Amy!! :))

So, any suggestions? What events are you planning to attend? What do you recommend? What should we make sure to see/do in Belgium? We’re up for pretty much anything! ūüôā

Karen Sandler’s Keynote address to Linux Australia conference

 

This is the keynote address that Karen Sandler (executive director of the GNOME Foundation) recently gave to the Linux Australia conference. It goes to the heart of why software is important, and why we should all have access to the sourcecode of the products which we all use everyday.

Karen has a rare heart condition and needed a defibrulator/pacemaker. One of her first questions when talking to a cardiologist about it was ‘what does it run’ – to which he had no answer, and didn’t understand why she cared. Yet, she cared for the same reason that *everyone* should care. ‘New’ defibrulators today are openly broadcasting over wifi patient details – so that when a patient walks into his/her doctors office, they no longer have to take their pulse – its on the computer already. Seems like a nifty feature, right? But the problem is, its not just broadcasting that info in the doctors office. It’s broadcasting it 24/7. In the mall. At school. In the airport. Everywhere. And the devices have been *proven* to be hackable – that is to say, it *IS* possible to hack into them and make them give the patient a shock. Or stop working entirely. Or any number of other things.

And yet, no-one can legally look at the software. And its not even reviewed (or tested!!) by any 3rd party – not by the FDA, not by anyone at all outside of the company that makes it. They say its ‘bug free’ – but anyone who knows about computers knows that there is *no such thing* as bug-free code. No. Such. Thing.

It goes to the heart of why open source is so important today – because we use computers constantly, everyday, without even thinking about it. We no longer drive cars; we ride in computers that drive. We no longer fly in airplanes; we ride in computers that fly. We no longer vote in elections; we tell a computer how to vote *for* us. Etc. And virtually all of these computers run on proprietary software which no-one outside the company that makes it has access to, to double check its safety, its security or anything else. And most of us don’t think twice about it.

Anyhow, its a long talk (nearly an hour), but is completely worth it. Its the reason that I use, love, and support Open Source Software. Its the reason why we all should.

GNOME & Computer Science at KSU

Today was the start of my 3rd week back at school for the first time in, well, 5.5 yrs. Its been a while, and is proving to be slightly more stressful than I remember… Anyhow, I’m currently majoring in Spanish Translation at Kent State University, and have been trying to decide what I want to minor in (most likely computer science). I’ve always wanted to learn to program, and have simply never been very successful in teaching myself (basically, I know just enough to break stuff:). When I was in college previously, I was simply never willing to take the required math classes to be able to get into the computer classes that I actually wanted to take. Oh, and I refused to use windows. Which, for some reason was required by both of the colleges at which I’ve previously inquired. All of which added up to me simply not taking computer classes in the past.

Today though, I finally went and hunted down a computer science adviser, and as I was talking to him about classes, system requirements, etc, realized that he was actually running GNOME! GNOME 2.x granted, but still, GNOME! I was (am!) elated!  As you may suspect, I was assured that no, I will not have to use windows in any of their computer science classes, which is of course exactly what I was hoping for.

All of this adds up to me looking forward to taking a computer science class or two in the coming semesters. Assuming I can pass Algebra for Calculus. Which, at this point, is quite the assumption, since its been a solid, oh, I don’t know, 10 years since I’ve done *ANY* math besides basic addition, subtraction,¬†multiplication¬†and they very occasional division?? Yeah. Its not looking so hot right now.