Home from AdaCamp & the GNOME Marketing Hackfest

After a little more than a week away, I am finally home. Last week was spent in New York City at the GNOME Marketing Hackfest with 6 other members of the marketing team. We had many great discussions and I look forward to continue to promote GNOME and make the project more successful than ever before.

This weekend was spent in San Francisco where I attended AdaCamp for the first time, which was an amazing experience. I met many, many amazing women of all ages from all walks of life who are doing amazing things. I’m still processing everything, but for now want to express how thankful I am for the opportunity to attend. AdaCamp was an inspiring experience which I won’t soon forget. Many, many, many thanks to the Ada Initiative and everyone involved in making AdaCamp happen!!!

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New Kiko Goat kids!

A couple of weeks ago now our Kiko does had kids. Two sets of twins, though only 3 survived. Patches had twin doelings, and Louise had twins as well – unfortunately though, one of hers was born in the water bucket and thus did not survive 😦 the surviving twin is a very nice looking buck though. These pictures are of when they were ~1.5 weeks old, and are themselves now another 9 days old.

Anyhow, a couple of pictures:

‘Stinky’ – buck on the left, ‘Patches’ – brown doe in the middle, ‘Louise’ on the right and Patches’ kids at ~2wks

Louise & her kid nursing, also one of Patches’ and Orso 🙂

They seem to be growing far faster than our kids in years past, having, in just about a month seeming to have doubled in size. More pictures on SmugMug: http://emilyrose.smugmug.com/Animals/Kiko-Goats-2013/

Patches & our 2013 Kiko Goat Kids!

Why aren’t we promoting FOSS to kids?

Over the last two months I’ve become involved in several homeschooling and unschooling communities both on-line and in our community here in Northeast Ohio. As I am an admitted geek, I find myself frequently answering questions about computers. Mixed in to the typical ‘what computer should I buy?’ or ‘do I really need a laptop/desktop or can I get away with just a tablet?’ type questions have been more than a few on programming and computer science for kids.

And its made me start to wonder something – why aren’t there programs to get kids involved in FOSS? There are growing numbers of programs to help kids learn programming, but aside from Google Code-In (which I keep plugging, though I have yet to speak to anyone who’s heard of it before…), none that I have found encourage (or even mention) the use and development of free software. Its a huge gap, and one which we should be working to fill.

If we want to convince people to move to free software we need to get them involved asap – before they develop preconceived notions about software. Many kids today have their own computers, tablets, cell phones, etc, and though many  would like to learn to develop on them, there’s just not a whole lot of materials out there to help them learn. And, unfortunately, most of what does exist, has been designed (sometimes explicitly) without free software in mind. The result is a majority of kids learning to program in closed environments without any idea that there is another, more open way to do things.

The result is yet another generation of kids who have barely heard of FOSS. Another generation lost to closed source, both as users and developers. If there is a target audience who we should be promoting free software to, its kids. They are a perfect fit – though many of them have access to technology, very few have much (if any!) expendable income. We ought to begin advertising our desire to teach them to use and contribute to free software, along with its benefits. We ought to begin designing basic programming classes for kids using free software and explaining its benefits. We also need to make it easy for those kids to talk to us and tell us about their software, what it does and what they need help with. If we want them to join us, then we need to give them the resources and the ability to do so.

We need something to point both kids and parents alike to. Something that we can show them and say ‘Look! Look at what you and your kids can do with free software! Look how it can help them learn!’ Because there are thousands, likely millions of them out there – kids who want to learn. Parents who want to facilitate their kids learn about computers. I myself continue to meet them, both online and off on a nearly daily basis – and I want, I need, something, anything to point them to.

Unschooling Month 2 :)

We’re coming up on 2 full months of homeschooling, and I am feeling more and more comfortable as we progress. Nearly every week since starting we’ve gotten out do stuff at least twice, which is pretty much what I’ve been shooting for.

The boys have taken to swimming at the Massillon Recreation Center on Fridays and are doing wonderfully. We generally arrive around 9-9:15am so we have a few minutes to play and say ‘hi’ before swim lessons begin at 9:30am. After lessons are over at 10am we usually swim for another hour or more before leaving to do something else.

My goal has always been to do at least one field trip a week, outside of swimming. In January we went to The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, OH for several of their programs though we haven’t made it back in February. Instead, we’ve focused on science museums and play days.

On February 9th we made it up to the Great Lakes Science Center for their “Family Science Day”. They love the “Polymer Funhouse” where they can run around and play with other kids, as well as the NASA Glenn Visitors center. We caught two of their science shows, the first about mass and forces had started just before we arrived but was interesting nonetheless. Later on, we saw the “Big Science Show” which they loved – especially watching 2 bottles of Diet Coke erupt more than 20′ into the air after 10 mentos candies were dropped into them! We also got to see “Egypt: The Nile” at the Big Screen Theatre which told the story of the first expidetion to navigate the length of the Nile River from the source of the White Nile in the highlands of Ethiopia all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Overall we had a great day and are looking forward to returning soon.

The next week, on February 13th we went to the Mckinley Museum in Canton, OH. The Mckinley Museum is a small museum with three main attractions: the Planetarium, Discovery World and a replica of a street from the turn of the century. “Discovery World” is full of hands-on exhibits, starting with an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex (which Keegan thought was terrifying), as well as several other exhibits about ancient animals from Dunklesoaurs to Mastodons and Giant Sloth, and a small exhibit about life during the ice age in Ohio. They also have a small collection of animals which serve as a sort of nature center – chinchillas, bees, cockroaches, snakes, turtles, fish, birds, etc. Finally, the “Fascination Station” had just opened (with a few finishing touches yet to come) which is a hands-on area about science and technology, including a solar powered car from Stark State College. The street was interesting, but since we were the only ones there we didn’t get the full experience. It looked as though there are likely people who come in and do re-enactments of sorts from time to time, and I’d love to go back at some point with a tour guide. Likewise, since we went on a Wednesday, the planetarium was closed. Someday we’ll have to return for a show!

Last week we went on a tour of Harry London’s Chocolate Factory (now owned by 1-800-FLOWERS), where they make chocolates which are shipped all around the country and sold under the Fannie Mae brand. We met several other homeschooling families we hadn’t before and went to play at McDonalds afterwards with a couple of them. We had a great time and are looking forward to doing other things with them in the near future 🙂

“Read-only filesystem”

So, I’m writing this post in the hopes that someone with more knowledge will read it and hopefully be able to track down the issue.

It started last Friday (February 8th) on my husbands Gateway laptop while he was at work. When he got home on Monday morning, he informed me of it – ‘I think I broke my computer…’ After looking at it for a little while, I realized that his file system had been marked ‘read-only’. A bit of googling informed me that this was usually a mark of a dying hard drive. After backing it up, I decided to try formatting and re-installing to see if that would, by chance, fix the problem. And it did! At least, initially. However, as soon as I updated all the packages and installed a couple of programs (Samba, Chromium), it reoccurred. Which made me suspect, initially that his hard drive as in deed dying or dead.

At approximately this point however, the exact same thing started happening on my laptop (a Lenovo IdeaPad). As a result I posted on ubuntuforums.com (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?s=19c5720cfb4ab8a14e1f6d7b264e6118&t=2115225) and was directed to a bug report (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1063354), which matches it. It appears to be a problem related to the kernel, though why it has taken several months to rear its ugly head I couldn’t say. In any case, I did a bit more googling and found a couple of ideas on how to fix it, at least temporarily. By booting into a live image of Ubuntu 12.10 I was able to run sudo dpkg-reconfigure -a – which fixed it on my laptop, mostly. It still goes into read-only mode, semingly at random, but a reboot immediately afterwards has, (thus far) fixed it.

The same can not be said for my husbands’ Gateway. After a third re-install of Ubuntu 12.10 (and giving him instructions to upgrade everything *except* the kernel), it worked fine for approximately 2 days, but has now reverted to read-only filesystem status, when booted. However, when I boot into a live image, the files do not appear to be read-only, and sudo dpkg-reconfigure -a has not worked the same way it did on mine :(. I think I’m going to try a fourth re-install (using 12.04), and hope that it remains functioning…

Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated!!

FOSDEM 2013′

This past weekend I attended and presented at FOSDEM 2013 in Brussels, Belgium. I arrived in Belgium early on Friday morning, and spent the first hour hanging out at the bus station chatting with Nick Daly and Christopher Webber waiting for a bus that, it turned out, wasn’t coming. So, I hopped a random bus towards the center of town and somehow found my way to the NH City Centre Hotel. After checking in and dropping off my stuff I made my way down to the ULB Campus Solbosch where I proceeded to help in the build-up for FOSDEM.

Build-up for FOSDEM was actually a lot of fun and I met a lot of awesome folks, many of whom have been volunteers for several years. I primarily worked on the buildup of the K Building, where we were almost entirely done by around 4pm, which was apparently a record and had everyone (especially the veterans!) pretty shocked. Around 6pm we had pizza and then headed to our respective hotels before meeting up at the Delirium Café for the FOSDEM Beer Event. Delirium was absolutely packed, and I ended up talking with folks from Aberystwyth University, some of whom who I’d met during buildup. I left Delirium fairly early (12-1am) as I wanted to get to FOSDEM early the next morning to get the GNOME booth setup.

On Saturday I woke up and had a quick breakfast at the hotel and then made my way down to FOSDEM. I was the first one from GNOME to arrive and hung out for a a little while before the event box and t-shirts, arrived and we could setup. The rest of Saturday was spent at the booth except for a brief hour or so when I went down to the H Building to give my talk and get some fries. My talk (Growing GNOME) went well, though I was pretty nervous. After my talk I returned to the booth where I finished out the day before heading back to the hotel, and then to the GNOME Beer Event at La Bécasse. Though the beer event got off to a slow start by around 9 or 10pm it was in full swing with dozens of GNOME users and contributors in attendance.

On Sunday morning I slept in and so didn’t arrive at FOSDEM until around 10:30-11am. I hung out at the booth for the rest of the morning and early afternoon before heading off to help with the cloakroom. I stayed there through the end of the day till we started tear-down around 6pm. By the time tear down was done and we’d had a bit to eat it was ~8pm at which point I headed back to the hotel, before venturing out for one last evening in Brussels.

On Monday I ended up taking a cab back to the airport after a failed attempt at navigating Brussels public transit back to the airport… after our fiasco last year when we missed our plane, I figured 45€ for a cab was preferable to missing my flight. It turned out that I was on the same flight back as Nick Daly & Chris Webber, and that Nick & I were actually sitting next to each other. As a result we had some interesting discussions, especially related to 3D printers and the possibilities of printing pamphlets, schedules, etc in braille for conferences.

Anyhow, I had a great trip to FOSDEM, and am extremely grateful for the GNOME Foundation’s help in making the trip possible. With a bit of luck I’ll make it back again next year – FOSDEM is an amazing place to meet new people from all over who are interested in free and open source software. If you haven’t made it to FOSDEM yet, make an extra effort to do so next year. Its worth the trip 🙂

FOSDEM 2013!

Tomorrow I fly back to Brussels, to attend FOSDEM 2013, where I’ll be presenting on GNOME’s community, my experience becoming involved over the last year and our efforts to expand it. Assuming all goes as planned I’ll be arriving in Brussels around 8:30am on Friday and am planning to help in the setup of FOSDEM in the afternoon, maybe  catch a nap and then off to the FOSDEM Beer Event. On Saturday & Sunday I’ll be (mostly) hanging out at the GNOME booth, answering questions and hopefully meeting lots of new people 🙂 If you’re around, stop by and say hi!

In any case a big thanks to the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring me!

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