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September 18, 2014

TL;DW for Clojure Data Science

Edmund Jackson talked at the 2012 Clojure/Conj, and you can see his talk here.

I took these notes as I watched it:
  1. What is "data science"?
    1. "That realm of endeavor that requires, simultaneously, advanced computational and statistical methods."
    2. Some people aren't sure whether "data science" is a thing, or just data analysis dressed up with a fancy name. That question amuses me.
  2. What's new, such that everybody suddenly cares about data science?
    1. widely available computing resources, open source tools such as R, and large amounts of data available in private companies and in public
    2. Compares to early days of Linux, when there was a bunch of new stuff that everybody could hack on
  3. Interactive tools aren't enough; you're not taking some data, analyzing it, and coming back with the answer. You need platform features like native language speed, data structures, language constructs, connectivity, and QC in order to embed your analysis in business processes.
  4. The tools with better analysis features (e.g., R, Mathematica) lack the platform features, and the tools with better platform features (he focuses primarily on C++ as his example here) lack the analysis features.
  5. Python is in the sweet spot, with platform features and (via numpy, scipy, and pandas) analysis features. But:
    1. It's full of mutable data!
    2. The mode of expression in imperative languages poorly matches the content of expression when you're dealing with maths.
  6. F#, Scala, and Clojure are all functional, and therefore (immutable data, more natural expression of maths) better alternatives than Python.
  7. Clojure yay! points:
    1. Native: Incanter, Storm, Cascalog, Datomic
    2. JVM: Mahout (ML on Hadoop), jBLAS, Weka (Java lib with many ML algorithms)
    3. Interop: Rincanter (call out to R), JNI
  8. From here he goes into calculating the entropy of a distribution, and the relative entropy of different distributions.
  9. Demonstrates using relative entropy fns in Datomic queries

How not to run an event and lessons for upcoming debutsav.in

This will be a short take on how people can crap an event by not planning properly or getting the business sense right and what we could perhaps learn from it. For a long time, have been an avid reader of all kinds of books, fiction as well non-fiction, although my non-fiction is limited to […]

Security for the people

A recent Pew study found that 86% of people surveyed had taken steps to protect their security online. This is great—more security is always good. However, if people are indeed working to protect themselves, why are we still seeing incidents, breaches, and confusion? In many cases these problems recur because the technology that allows people to secure their communications, content and online activity is too hard to use.

In other words, the tools for the job exist. But while many of these tools work technically, they don’t always work in ways that users expect. They introduce extra steps or are simply confusing and cumbersome. (“Is this a software bug, or am I doing something wrong?”) However elegant and intelligent the underlying technology (and much of it is truly miraculous), the results are in: if people can’t use it easily, many of them won’t.

We believe that people shouldn’t have to make a trade-off between security and ease of use. This is why we’re happy to support Simply Secure, a new organization dedicated to improving the usability and safety of open-source tools that help people secure their online lives.

Over the coming months, Simply Secure will be collaborating with open-source developers, designers, researchers, and others to take what’s there—groundbreaking work from efforts like Open Whisper Systems, The Guardian Project, Off-the-Record Messaging, and more—and work to make them easier to understand and use.

We’re excited for a future where people won’t have to choose between ease and security, and where tools that allow people to secure their communications, content, and online activity are as easy as choosing to use them.

By Meredith Whittaker, Open Source Research Lead and Ben Laurie, Senior Staff Security Engineer







September 17, 2014

gcloud-node - a Google Cloud Platform Client Library for Node.js

Today we are announcing a new category of client libraries that has been built specifically for Google Cloud Platform. The very first library, gcloud-node, is idiomatic and intuitive for Node.js developers. With today’s release, you can begin integrating Cloud Datastore and Cloud Storage into your Node.js applications, with more Cloud Platform APIs and programming languages planned.

 The easiest way to get started is by installing the gcloud package using npm:
$ npm install gcloud
With gcloud installed, your Node.js code is simpler to write, easier to read, and cleaner to integrate with your existing Node.js codebase. Take a look at the code required to retrieve entities from Datastore:
var gcloud = require('gcloud');

var dataset = new gcloud.datastore.Dataset({
projectId: 'my-project',
keyFilename: '/path/to/keyfile.json' // Details at
//https://github.com/googlecloudplatform/gcloud-node#README
});

dataset.get(dataset.key('Product', 123), function(err, entity) {
console.log(err, entity);
});
gcloud is open-sourced on Github; check out the code, file issues and contribute a PR - contributors are welcome. Got questions? Post them on StackOverflow with the [gcloud-node] tag. Learn more about the Client Library for Node.js at http://googlecloudplatform.github.io/gcloud-node/ and try gcloud-node today.

 -Posted by JJ Geewax, Software Engineer

Node.js is a trademark of Joyent, Inc. and npm is a trademark of npm, Inc.

September 16, 2014

LibrePlanet is coming March 21-22, 2015, call for proposals now open for annual free software conference

LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software enthusiasts. The conference brings together software developers, policy experts, activists and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments and face challenges to software freedom. Newcomers are always welcome, and LibrePlanet 2015 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

This year, the theme of LibrePlanet is "Free Software Everywhere." The call for sessions seeks talks that touch on the many places and ways that free software is used around the world, as well as ways to make free software ubiquitous. Proposals are encouraged to consider "everywhere" in the broadest sense of the word. LibrePlanet 2015 will take software freedom around the world, to outer space, and consider its role in industry, government, academia, community organizing, and personal computing.

"LibrePlanet is one of the most rewarding things we do all year. This conference brings people from all over the planet who want to make the world a better place with free software," said John Sullivan, executive director of the FSF.

Call for Sessions

"I hope we'll receive session proposals from people with all levels of speaking and technical experience; you don't have to be a coder to speak at LibrePlanet. Free software users, activists, academics, policymakers, developers, and others are all key contributors to the free software movement, and we want to showcase all of these skills at LibrePlanet 2015," said Libby Reinish, a campaigns manager at the FSF.

Call for sessions applications are currently being accepted at https://www.libreplanet.org/2015/call_for_sessions and are due by Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 at 19:59 EST (23:59 UTC).**

About LibrePlanet

LibrePlanet is the annual conference of the Free Software Foundation, and is co-produced by the Student Information Processing Board. What was once a small gathering of FSF members has grown into a larger event for anyone with an interest in the values of software freedom. LibrePlanet is always gratis for associate members of the FSF. To sign up for announcements about LibrePlanet 2015, visit https://www.libreplanet.org/2015.

LibrePlanet 2014 was held at MIT from March 22-23, 2014. Over 350 attendees from all over the world came together for conversations, demonstrations, and keynotes centered around the theme of "Free Software, Free Society." You can watch videos from past conferences at http://media.libreplanet.org.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

Media Contacts

Libby Reinish
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 - 5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

###

Coming Soon

06Melt_2I just finished animating the “Death of the Firstborn Egyptians” (Exodus 12) scene for Seder-Masochism. It clocks in at 7 minutes 6 seconds. As soon as it gets some extra sound effects I’ll release it online, coinciding with a fundraising drive for the movie. Meanwhile here are some stills.

06Melt_1

08

09

10.2

 

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September 14, 2014

FreeBSD 10.1-BETA1 Now Available

The first BETA build of the 10.1-RELEASE release cycle is now available on the FTP servers for the amd64, armv6, i386, ia64, powerpc, powerpc64 and sparc64 architectures.

The image checksums follow are included in the original announcement email.

Installer images and memory stick images are available here.

If you notice problems you can report them through the Bugzilla PR system or on the -stable mailing list.

If you would like to use SVN to do a source based update of an existing system, use the "stable/10" branch.

A list of changes since 10.0-RELEASE are available on the stable/10 release notes page.

Pre-installed virtual machine images for 10.1-BETA1 are also available for amd64 and i386 architectures.  The images are located here.

The disk images are available in QCOW2, VHD, VMDK, and raw disk image formats.  The image download size is approximately 135 MB, which decompress to a 20GB sparse image.

The partition layout is:
  • 512k - freebsd-boot GPT partition type (bootfs GPT label)
  • 1GB  - freebsd-swap GPT partition type (swapfs GPT label)
  • ~17GB - freebsd-ufs GPT partition type (rootfs GPT label)
Note to consumers of the dvd1.iso image: The packages included on the dvd do not have a corresponding pkg(8) repository due to an incompatibility with pkg-1.2.x and pkg-1.3.x.  This will be fixed for BETA2.

The packages will not be recognized by bsdconfig(8), however can be  installed manually.

To install packages from the dvd1.iso installer, create and mount the /dist directory:

# mkdir -p /dist
# mount -t cd9660 /dev/cd0 /dist

Next, install pkg(8) from the DVD:
 

# env REPOS_DIR=/dist/packages/repos pkg add \
  /dist/packages/freebsd:10:*:*/All/pkg-*.txz

At this point, pkg-add(8) can be used to install additional packages from the DVD.  Please note, the REPOS_DIR environment variable should be used each time using the DVD as the package repository, otherwise conflicts with packages from the upstream mirrors may occur when they are fetched.  For example, to install the Subversion, Gnome, and Xorg, run:
 

# env REPOS_DIR=/dist/packages/repos pkg add \
  /dist/packages/freebsd:10:*:*/subversion [...]

The freebsd-update(8) utility supports binary upgrades of amd64 and i386 systems running earlier FreeBSD releases.  Systems running earlier
FreeBSD releases can upgrade as follows:

# freebsd-update upgrade -r 10.1-BETA1

During this process, freebsd-update(8) may ask the user to help by merging some configuration files or by confirming that the automatically
performed merging was done correctly.

# freebsd-update install

The system must be rebooted with the newly installed kernel before continuing.


# shutdown -r now

After rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to install the new userland components:


# freebsd-update install
It is recommended to rebuild and install all applications if possible, especially if upgrading from an earlier FreeBSD release, for example,
FreeBSD 8.x.  Alternatively, the user can install misc/compat9x and other compatibility libraries, afterwards the system must be rebooted
into the new userland:

# shutdown -r now

Finally, after rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to remove stale files:

# freebsd-update install

Love FreeBSD?  Support this and future releases with a donation to the FreeBSD Foundation!

Git way -V

This will be a short update as the git repository for debutsav has moved from gitorious.org to Gitlab.com Due to few added resources (namely an issue tracker and a better-looking UI) the git repository was changed from gitorious.org to gitlab.com last week. Gitlab seems to be sitting between github and gitorious.org with the benefits of […]

September 12, 2014

ThinkPenguin wireless router now FSF-certified to respect your freedom

The TPE-NWIFIROUTER comes pre-installed with libreCMC, an FSF-endorsed embedded GNU/Linux distribution.

"This is a big step forward for computer user freedom. For the first time, you can purchase a router that ships with only free software preinstalled. This router and OS give us a platform that we can trust and control, and that the community can use to begin building our own, free software based network for communication, file sharing, social networking, and more," said FSF's executive director John Sullivan.

This is the third product by ThinkPenguin to be awarded the use of the RYF certification mark. The first two were the TPE-N150USB Wireless N USB Adapter and the long-range TPE-N150USBL model.

Christopher Waid, ThinkPenguin's founder and CEO, said, "ThinkPenguin, Inc. was founded with the goal of making free software more easily adoptable by the masses. Everyone needs a wireless router in their homes, and so I am very proud that we are able to offer users a router that ships with 100% free software installed and that is backed by a reputable certification process provided by the FSF."

To learn more about the Respects Your Freedom hardware certification, including details on the certification of the TPE-N150USB Wireless N USB adapter, as well as information on the driver and firmware for the device, visit http://www.fsf.org/ryf. Hardware sellers interested in applying for certification can consult http://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/criteria.

Subscribers to the FSF's Free Software Supporter newsletter will receive announcements about future Respects Your Freedom products.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

About ThinkPenguin, Inc

Started by Christopher Waid, founder and CEO, ThinkPenguin, Inc. is a consumer-driven company with a mission to bring free software to the masses. At the core of company is a catalog of computers and accessories with broad support for GNU/Linux. The company provides technical support for end-users and works with the community, distributions, and upstream projects to make GNU/Linux all that it can be.

Media Contacts

Joshua Gay
Licensing & Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Media Inquires
ThinkPenguin, Inc.
+1 (888) 39 THINK (84465) x703
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

###

Cycling in London

As the CEO of Canonical, I am proud of the growth of the team in London.  From a team of 5 around a kitchen table in London 10 years ago, the business has grown to 650 employees globally of which over 100 are based in London.

Like many businesses in London, one of the most popular modes of transport to the office is cycling and an even larger proportion of the team would cycle to the office if they felt it was safer than it is now.

We value employee satisfaction, health and freedom and firmly endorse the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London. We specifically support the cross London plans from City Hall to create new segregated routes through the heart of the city.

These plans are good for London and Londoners, making it a more attractive and productive city in which we can build a business and serve customers.

Proposed Farringdon Road route. Image from Transport For London 2014.

 

I encourage everyone to respond directly to TFL about these proposals. This particularly applies to businesses whose support for cycling is often not registered.

I know that there many business leaders like me who feel the same and will be speaking up over the coming days.

September 11, 2014

Italy: High Court shoots down Windows tax

Italy: High Court shoots down Windows tax

Italy's High Court has struck a blow to the practice of forcing non-free software on buyers of PCs and laptops. According to La Repubblica, the court ruled on Thursday that a laptop buyer was entitled to receive a refund for the price of the Microsoft Windows license on his computer.

The judges sharply criticised the practice of selling PCs only together with a non-free operating system as "a commercial policy of forced distribution". The court slammed this practice as "monopolistic in tendency". It also highlighted that the practice of bundling means that end users are forced into using additional non-free applications due to compatibility and interoperability issues, whether they wanted these programs or not.

"This decision is both welcome and long overdue", said Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "No vendor should be allowed to cram non-free software down the throats of users."

Free Software Foundation Europe has been long fought the "Windows tax", as the involuntary payment to Microsoft is often called. The organisation maintains a wiki page with advice for consumers who want to avoid funding the development of non-free software, and accounts from people who have successfully returned the licenses they were forced to buy.

In response to the ruling, the Italian authorities should discourage the bundling of software and hardware, and take practical steps to ensure that consumers can really exercise their freedom of choice. Governments around Europe should take the same steps, and encourage consumers everywhere to install and use Free Software.

"This practice of forced distribution needs to end," says Gerloff. "We hope that the Italian authorities will turn this ruling into a real win for consumers, and ensure that computer buyers can choose their device with any operating system they want, or none."

The number of the ruling is 19161 / 2014.

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Mozilla Webmaker at Olivarez College Tagaytay a success

2014-09-05 09.48.21

The Mozilla webmaker party at Olivarez College Tagaytay is a success last September 5, 2014. Which was attended by different department from Olivarez College Tagaytay at Computer Laboratory 2.  Since they only have 20 system units on their laboratory they created a two batches of participants, one in the morning and the other is in the afternoon. The event discussion is about Introduction Mozilla which was discuss by Me, The second lecturer discussed and demo “Thimble” by Mr. Ian Mark Martin and lastly Mr. Leo Caisip which  discussed  about “Popcorn Maker“, Both  attended the Mozilla PH orientation for web maker mentor last August 16, 2013  at Mozilla Community Space Manila. The event ended at exactly 4:00pm as mostly in afternoon participated by the nursing department.

DSC_2881

2014-09-11 12.59.54

We also distributed some Mozilla Swag (Bollard, Mozilla Sticker, Mozilla Tatoos and Mozilla Pins) for participants after the event. As part of the successfull event, based on their survey they are requesting for another event semilar to this.  but internet on the school is not that stable during that day but still we managed to make the event successfull.

 

DSC_2859

Pictures can be found here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/83515207@N04/sets/72157646987948838/

September 09, 2014

Supporting net neutrality and the Internet Slowdown

On 10th September 2014, Canonical are joining in with Internet Slowdown day to support the fight for net neutrality.

Along with Reddit, Tumblr, Boing Boing, Kickstarter and many more sites, we will be sporting banners on our main sites, www.ubuntu.com and www.canonical.com.

Net neutrality

From Wikipedia:

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.

Internet Slowdown day

#InternetSlowdown day is in protest to the FCC’s plans to allow ISPs in America to offer “paid prioritization” of their traffic to certain companies.

If large companies were allowed to pay ISPs to prioritise their traffic, it would be much harder for competing companies to enter the market, effectively giving large corporations a greater monopoly.

I believe that internet service providers should conform to common carrier laws where the carrier is required to provide service to the general public without discrimination.

If you too support net neutrality, please consider signing the Battle for the net petition.

Also posted on my blog.

September 08, 2014

BSDDay Argentina Trip Report: Damian Vicino

The Foundation recently sponsored Damian Vicino to attend BSDDay Argentina. Here is his trip report:

BSDday is the only BSD conference in South America as far as I know. The event's inception was in 2008 by 2 BSD Users Groups in Buenos Aires City. participated as part of the organisation committee from 2009 - 2012. In 2013, the event had no edition because of some big changes in the livesof the people participating in the organisation committee. In my case, I moved out of the country (and the continent). Thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation, I was able to return to South America for a few weeks this year to re-float the committee and the event, making possible the run of a 5th edition.

We started the preparation a few months before by coordinating remotely, but there was a lot of stuff to be done in-place, so I traveled 10 days earlier. In the days before the event, I coordinated with Universidad de Buenos Aires to finish the arrangements for the space to run the event and the supplies needed for the event. I worked as the main contact for the university and dealt with all the paperwork; being the largest university in Argentina, there is a lot of paperwork for everything. An interesting institutional plus this year is that the Faculty of Science and Department of Computer Science of Universidad de Buenos Aires declared officially the BSDday as an Event of Interest. Simultaneously, Hernan Constante and Matias Celani were coordinating accommodations for one of the speakers who traveled from Mar del Plata and making arrangements to have food & coffee for the event. Thanks for their help and also to Alejandro Lazaro who was helping in all he could remotely since he also moved out of Buenos Aires.

The quantity of proposals for talks received this year was about half the usual. We contacted previous speakers for feedback and we decided to include discussion spaces to find out why and how we can make it better for next year. On August 9th, a few minutes before the event started, the first speaker had family emergency. We decided to delay the opening talk and use the time for a first open discussion about the event and its future. The attendance was the lowest ever, so we focused the first discussion space on this topic. It appears to be a consensus that August is not a good month for the conference, because of the power outages in Buenos Aires in summer. From previous years, we knew that November is not good either. Another apparent reason is the break in continuity of the event (in 2013). Everyone in the room actively participated in the open discussion spaces. We noticed from discussions that the demographics of the event had changed. This time, we had a group of desktop users, mostly from FreeBSD, while in previous years we had mostly sysadmins from OpenBSD working in large companies or ISPs.

After the discussion, I did the opening talk with the help of Hernan Constante. The talk was also open to discussion so it extended a little longer than programmed; lucky for us, having only 1 track, it didn't affect the schedule much. The second talk was for 40 minutes, but was extended up to 2 hours and ended up in a different topic than the one it started with. We were tempted to stop it, but people were asking so many questions that we let it flow. We then had 4 more talks (including mine) and 2 more spaces for open discussion about anything-BSD where we collected opinions about the event, about BSD in Argentina, and the future of BSD advocacy actions. Since we didn't have sponsors for the food/coffee/supplies, we asked if anyone wanted to contribute at the end of the event. We were glad to see that everyone in the room put in money and we almost covered every expense for the event in this way. After the event, about 90% of the people moved to the bar across the street to share some beers and we kept discussing until the bar closed and kicked us out.

The week after the event, I met again with some organisers to discuss ideas for next year and do some analysis of what happened this year. One week later, I met with some companies and professionals to check sponsoring possibilities for next year's edition.

Last week, I collected and processed the materials we obtained from the event: videos, photos, and slides from every presentation. I still need to recover a few videos that we had to download to one of the organiser's computer (who left the country before me). In the following weeks, we will upload the videos, slides and pictures and formally close this year's event in order to start working for the 6th edition, expected to happen in 2016.

Once again, thank you very much to the FreeBSD Foundation for helping me with the expenses for this trip, to the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Science and Computer Science department for giving us the space and support, to Hernan Constante, Alejandro Lazaro, Matias Celani, the speakers, and all those who helped to make this event possible once again.

September 04, 2014

TL;DW for "How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters"

Josh Bloch's Google Tech Talk video How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters is about an hour long, and well worth your time. It's focused on OOP, but has lots of good principles that can be followed elsewhere.

In case you don't have an hour right now, here's a summary/index kind of thing that points out the bits I thought were most important.
  1. 6:27: Characteristics of a good API:
    1. Easy to learn
    2. Easy to use, even without documentation
    3. Hard to misuse
    4. Easy to read and maintain code that uses it
    5. Sufficiently powerful to satisfy requirements
    6. Easy to evolve
    7. Appropriate to audience
  2. 7:52: Gather requirements, but differentiate between true requirements (which should take the form of use cases) and proposed solutions.
  3. 10:02: Start with a short spec; one page is ideal.
    1. Agility trumps completeness at this point.
    2. Get as many spec reviews from as many audiences as possible, modify according to feedback.
    3. Flesh the spec out as you gain confidence.
  4. 15:10: Write to your API early and often
    1. Start writing to your API before you've implemented it, or even specified it properly.
    2. Continue writing to your API as you flesh it out.
    3. Your code will live on in examples and unit tests.
  5. 17:32: Write to SPI [Service Provider Interface]
    1. Write at least three plugins before your release.
    2. Application in Clojure-land: Not sure...
  6. 19:35: Maintain realistic expectations.
    1. You won't please everyone.
    2. Aim to displease everyone equally.
    3. Expect to make mistakes and evolve the API in the future.
  7. 22:01: API should do one thing and do it well.
    1. Functionality should be easy to explain.
    2. If it's hard to name, that's a bad sign.
      1. Example of bad name that I can't leave out of this summary: OMGVMCID
  8. 24:32: API should be as small as possible but no smaller
    1. "When in doubt, leave it out." You can always add stuff, but you can't ever remove anything you've included. (The speaker calls this out as his most important point.)
  9. 26:27: Implementation should not impact API.
    1. Do not over-specify. For example, nobody needs to know how your hash function works, unless the hashes are persistent.
    2. Don't leak implementation details such as SQL exceptions!
  10. 29:36: Minimize accessibility of everything.
    1. Don't let API callers see stuff you don't want to be public, and that includes anything you might want to change in the future.
  11. 30:39: Names matter: API is a little language.
    1. Make names self-explanatory.
    2. Be consistent.
    3. Strive for symmetry. (If you can GET a monkey-uncle, make sure you can PUT a monkey-uncle, too.)
  12. 32:32: Documentation matters.
    1. Document parameter units! ("Length of banana in centimeters")
  13. 35:41: Consider performance consequences of API design decisions.
    1. Bad decisions can limit performance -- and this is permanent.
    2. Do not warp your API to gain performance -- the slow thing you avoided can be fixed and get faster, but your warped API will be permanent.
    3. Good design usually coincides with good performance.
  14. 40:00: Minimize mutability
    1. Make everything immutable unless there's a reason to do otherwise.
  15. 45:31: Don't make the caller do anything your code should do.
    1. If there are common use cases that require stringing a bunch of your stuff together in a boilerplate way, that's a bad sign.
  16. 48:36: Don't violate the principle of least astonishment
    1. Make sure your API callers are never surprised by what the API does.
  17. 50:03: Report errors as soon as possible after they occur.
  18. 52:00: Provide programmatic access to all data that is available in string form.
    1. Rich Hickey makes a similar point here.
  19. 56:15: Use consistent parameter ordering across methods.
    1. Here's a bad example:
      1. char *strncpy (char *dst, char *src, size_t n);
      2. void bcopy (void *src, void *dst, size_t n);
  20. 57:15: Avoid long parameter lists.
  21. 58:21: Avoid return values that demand exceptional processing.
    1. Example: return an empty list instead of nil/null.

September 03, 2014

FSFE Newsletter - September 2014

FSFE Newsletter – September 2014 An Introduction to Free Software and the liberation of cyberspace

The freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and privacy are essential preconditions for a Free Society. If it lacks one of those freedoms, it is difficult to maintain the others. As a society, it is important to defend those freedoms, especially in light of fundamental changes such as the one introduced by the ubiquity of computers. Such changes can threaten old freedoms and can create the need for new ones. So now software freedom is crucial to distribute and balance power in society. The FSFE is convinced that a free society needs the freedoms which only Free Software can offer. That is, why we advocate Free Software.

In 2010, we wrote the article "Democracy requires Free Software", explaining the message above to politicians at the ceremony at which the Theodor-Heuss medal was awarded to the FSFE. Thanks to FSFE's translators team, the article is meanwhile available in 15 languages, and is shared widely.

Since last month, the message of the importance of Free Software is also featured in a short TEDx video "Introduction to Free Software and the liberation of cyberspace" by Richard Stallman. It is a good way to make others aware of the significance of Free Software and why it matters. We need more people to understand why Free Software matters for a free society, as the following examples will show once again.

Slovakia still forcing users to use non-free software

In 2012 -- thanks to our former intern Martin Husovec -- the FSFE got engaged in a case against the Slovak Tax Authorities together with the European Information Society Institute (EISi). As current FSFE intern Matej Gera writes in his blog the problem of Slovak authorities forcing people to use non-free software is still ongoing: According to a new regulation in Slovakia, people who own agricultural land and want to sell it must make an offer on web page of the Ministry of Agriculture first. In order to submit an offer to the Ministry's web page, you need to use additional software. The software in question is proprietary and only available for Microsoft Windows, and it is the only way -- there is no paper form. If you would try to sell the land otherwise, you would break the law.

This practice is not only unacceptable for Free Software users, but also unlawful itself in Slovakia. Since 2008, there is a binding regulation which forbids public authorities to request users to use a specific operating system. But the website of Ministry clearly does not comply with this rule. Now, the Slovak non-profit organisation EISi sent a letter to Ministry of Agriculture, calling to end this practice. If they will not comply with the letter and will not provide an interoperable solution until October, EISi will go to court to protect rights of Slovak software users.

Forced by Internet Service Provider to use certain hardware

It should go without saying that in our society, we should be able to freely choose technical devices for use in our homes like we choose the furniture or the books in our shelves. But besides authorities forcing us to to use non-free software, the FSFE currently also has to counter companies who want to force us to use certain computers in our home. In this case even one of the most important computers: the router, which should act as the gatekeeper between our private network and the public internet.

In Germany, Internet service providers (ISPs) force their customers to use certain types of hardware in order to connect to the internet. Users of alternative devices, instead, are not able to connect to the internet by those ISPs. Together with other members of the Free Software community, our German team wrote several comments on this case and we entered talks with government agencies, corporations, and other organisations about compulsory routers.

As this topic was mainly covered in Germany and in German, our German team member Max Mehl summarised this case and made a timeline of the most important events which lead to the current state. We hope that with this information we can support other Free Software activists around the world, who might face similar problems.

Something completely different FSFE has received television coverage twice in the last months. First, our legal coordinator Matija Šuklje was interviewed for the RTV Slovenia to point out the challenges for the newly appointed Information Commissioner of Slovenia related to cloud computing. Although they translated the FSFE into "Foundation for unrestricted programming", it was the first time for the FSFE to appear on Slovenian television. Thereafter, our Austrian coordinator Peter Bubestinger was in Mexico City at an archiving seminar, where he presented use cases for file-formats and long-term storage implemented in Free Software. The whole seminar was translated live into Spanish and broadcasted on Televison Educativa, a nation-wide education TV channel. They also uploaded the videos to youtube. Peter's interview can be found at 3h50m. Guido Arnold published some education news covering a hacking contest to find security holes in Moodle, Free Software activists visiting schools in Slovakia, and other education related news. GNU community members and collaborators have discovered details about a five-country government surveillance program codenamed HACIENDA. Those same hackers have already worked out a Free Software countermeasure to thwart the program. Equipped with free GNU Radio software, a group of citizen scientists has contacted, controlled, and is attempting to recapture a 1970s-era satellite and bring it back into an orbit close to Earth. The story behind this demonstrates the importance of developing, maintaining, and promoting Free Software. From the planet aggregation: Hugo Roy takes a look at what is featured in the European Court of Justice's "right to be forgotten". As he found it difficult to read, he wrote an alternate version of the directive. In another post he explains why he helped the Free Software search engine developer Pablo Joubert to publish a defensive publication around search engines making use of distributed hash tables. Our former intern Lucile Falgueyrac writes about why TTIP & CETA entails a few reasons for Free Software advocates to get angry. She argues that now, there is a good moment to send a strong message to the European Commission, the governments and states that policy laundering is not a legitimate way to legislate, and never should be. Our current intern Bela Seeger wrote a blog post about Off-The-Record (OTR) Messaging, clarifying the meaning and technicalities of "off-the-record" (OTR) messaging and giving insight into the possibilities of implementing it in various devices. (You might have noticed in this edition, that current and former interns of FSFE are quite active!) Our Fellows participated at many events. Nikos Roussos writes about his personal highlights of the Fedora Contributor Conference 2014. He also mentioned the keynote about the Novena laptop project, which was summarised on LWN. Mario Fux and Mirko Böhm report from the KDE meeting in Randa, with around 50 Free Software activists improving KDE. To get some impressions from the meeting, Mirko posted a short video from the meeting in Switzerland. André Ockers, who is currently updating and translating almost all FSFE materials into Dutch, started blogging. He writes in English, Dutch, German, and French. Kevin Keijzer, also from the Netherlands, gives a detailed overview of Free Software he is using. Daniel Pocock gives an update on WebRTC, explaining what works, what does not. Matija reports from his free music experiment, highlighting his favourite artists who are using Creative Commons licenses for their music. Get active: Spread the word on Software Freedom Day

On 20 September 2014, people around the world celebrate Free Software. The organisers from Software Freedom International announced that the registration for events is now open. They provide a start guide with tips and pointers for organising your own SFD team event. If you organise an event, or just want to spread information about Free Software on Software Freedom Day you can also:

order printed information materials from us send around the FSF's e-mail self defence guide which is now available in 11 languages. (At the "Freedom not Fear" demonstration our Berlin Fellowship group handed out a hundreds of printed leaflet of the German version, which you can also order from us.) share Richard Stallman's video, or the article mentioned above to explain your friends Free Software.

Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors who enable our work, Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

Celebrate Software Freedom Day on September 20

200teamsI am very glad to share with you that registration of the eleventh edition of Software Freedom Day has been opened since early August and you can see from our SFD event map, we already have 129 events from more than 50 countries shown in our map. As usual registration happens after you have created your event page on the wiki. We have a detail guide here for newcomers and for the others who need help, the SFD-Discuss mailing would be the best place to get prompt support.

Don’t forget to tell people about SFD! Simply use one of the banners we’ve made if you are organizing, participating, attending or speaking at a SFD event by placing it on your webpages and link it back to your SFD event page or http://www.softwarefreedomday.org. You can also help us to promote SFD by placing our SFD counter with your own language as well!

So get ready to celebrate and happy preparations to all!
Celebrate SFD with us on September 20, 2014!

September 01, 2014

FreeBSD 10.1-BETA1 Available

The first BETA build for the FreeBSD 10.1 release cycle is now available. ISO images for the amd64, armv6, i386, ia64, powerpc, powerpc64 and sparc64 architectures are available on most of our FreeBSD mirror sites.

August 27, 2014

Preso: Things I Learned about Open Source…The Hard Way

My presentation at the Bay Area Open Source Meet-Up – OS in Big Organizations: Failures, Success Stories & Best Practices on August 13, 2014.

Mark Hinkle runs the Citrix Open Source Business Office and has spent 20 years working with open source communities and delivering open source software. Topics covered in this presentation will include the benefit of his mistakes and successes both in evaluating open source ad an end-user and in delivering enterprise solutions based on open source software.

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August 26, 2014

Introducing Professional Services

Now you can hire us to perform your site migrations, server installs, one-off sysadmin tasks, and anything else you need. With this new service you’ll always have our expert staff available to perform system administration work for you.

You submit a request, we work with you to define the requirements and scope, and then you receive an estimate. If it all looks good, we get to work. Professional Services costs $100/hour.

For instance, let’s say you really want to move to Linode for your cloud hosting, but you don’t have the experience or time to do it yourself. You can hire us to orchestrate and execute the entire move – whether it’s one site or an entire fleet of servers, we’ll make sure it’s done as safely, as practically and as stress free as possible. We’d configure the new Linode servers, sync the content, manage the DNS transition, and manage all aspects of the migration.

Web and application servers, content management systems, mail servers, database servers, application frameworks, and control panels are just a few additional examples of the things we can help with.

We really hope this provides a useful service in both the initial deployment of your apps, and is a useful aid in your ongoing operational demands. Please contact us with any questions or requests for work!

Want to know more? Please see the Professional Services product page.

Enjoy!

August 22, 2014

GNU hackers unmask massive HACIENDA surveillance program and design a countermeasure

After making key discoveries about the details of HACIENDA, Julian Kirsch, Dr. Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Dr. Holger Kenn designed the TCP Stealth system to protect unadvertised servers from port scanning.

According to Heise Online, the intelligence agencies of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are involved in HACIENDA. The agencies share the data they collect. The HACIENDA system also hijacks civilian computers, allowing it to leach computing resources and cover its tracks.

Some of the creators of TCP Stealth are also prominent contributors to the GNU Project, a major facet of the free software community and a hub for political and technological action against bulk surveillance. Free software is safer because it is very hard to hide malicious code in a program anyone can read. In proprietary software, there is no way to guarantee that programs don't hide backdoors and other vulnerabilities. The team revealed their work on August 15, 2014 at the annual GNU Hackers' Meeting in Germany, and Julian Kirsch published about it in his master's degree thesis.

Maintainers of Parabola, an FSF-endorsed GNU/Linux distribution, have already implemented TCP Stealth, making Parabola users safer from surveillance. The FSF encourages other operating systems to follow Parabola's lead.

The Free Software Foundation supports and sponsors the GNU Project. FSF campaigns manager Zak Rogoff said, "Every time you use a free software program, you benefit from the work of free software developers inspired by the values of transparency and bottom-up collaboration. But on occassions like these, when our civil liberties are threatened with technological tools, the deep importance of these values becomes obvious. The FSF is proud to support the free software community in its contributions to the resistance against bulk surveillance."

The Free Software Foundation works politically for an end to mass surveillance. Simultaneously, the Foundation advocates for individuals of all technical skill levels to take a variety of actions against bulk surveillance.

About Julian Kirsch, Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Holger Kenn

Julian Kirsch is the author of "Improved Kernel-Based Port-Knocking in Linux", his Master's Thesis in Informatics at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Dr. Christian Grothoff is the Emmy-Noether research group leader in Computer Science at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Jacob Appelbaum is an American independent computer security researcher and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington, and is a core member of the Tor project, a free software network designed to provide online anonymity.

Dr. Holger Kenn is a computer scientist specializing in wearable computing, especially software architectures, context sensor systems, human machine interfaces, and wearable-mediated human robot cooperation.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom. See https://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.

Media Contacts

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1-617-542-5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

"Knocking down the HACIENDA" by Julian Kirsch, produced by GNU, the GNUnet team, and edited on short notice by Carlo von Lynx from #youbroketheinternet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

August 21, 2014

FreeBSD ports tree was born twenty years ago, let's celebrate!

It all started with this commit from Jordan Hubbard on August 21, 1994:

August 20, 2014

Leviathan/Apep in the sea

ApepBWenlarging

I seem to have created something that looks great as an endlessly looping gif, but is hard to fit into the movie I created it for. I’m still trying to fit it in without overwhelming any scene it appears in.

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August 13, 2014

SFD Tagaytay 2014 at Olivarez College

I am now again an official organizer for SFD 2014, but this time I will organized the event in Tagaytay City which will be hosted by Olivarez College in Tagaytay. The said event is scheduled on September 27, 2014.

SFD2014

The venue is on their “AMPITHEATER” where it can hold more than 500 participants. Here are some pictures of the exact venue.

cpdc-20140804131542221  cpdc-20140804131124356We also launch the online registration feel free to register using the this URL : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/software-freedom-day-2014-at-olivarez-college-tagaytay-tickets-12455543867

August 12, 2014

websites on this server

SFD 2014 Registration is on!

With a bit of delay, the Digital Freedom Foundation is very happy to announce that registration of the eleventh edition of Software Freedom Day opened early August. This year we are unfortunately unable to ship any goodies for the pre-registered teams: as we have mentioned before, our involvment with the Cambodian system of education required us to relocate. Being happy owners of a few special animals (CITES-II listed species) we would not have moved without them. This took us about 3-4 months to make it happen and we arrived in Phnom Penh end of May. We then had to look for a place to live, get our furnitures out of the customs and a member of our team got hospitalized for ten days in July. With all this, identifying new suppliers for the schwag just could not happen. Nevertheless, SFD teams have been very patient and nice with us and hopefully SFD 2014 will not be too much impacted by this.

So as usual registration happens after you have created your event page on the wiki. We have an exhaustive guide here for newcomers and for the others who need help, the SFD-Discuss mailing is probably the best place to get prompt support. We will come back with more details regarding sponsors, things to do or worth mentioning to bring inspiration and motivation to the celebration.

So get ready to celebrate and happy preparations to all!

August 10, 2014

MySQLNoSQLCloud 2014 – Edition #3

Good morning buenos airesI’ve enjoyed visiting Buenos Aires once a year for the MySQLNoSQLCloud event, put together by the awesome people at Binlogic (in particular, their proprietor Santiago Lertora). It’s happening again in 2014, which by my count is the third edition, and there’s a twist: Buenos Aires on 13 & 14 November, and Cordoba on 17 November. It’s never been held in Cordoba before (like an annex event), so I think this could be extremely exciting.

If you’re looking to speak, send Santiago a note at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (or leave a message here). I’ll put you in touch with him. If you’re looking to sponsor, you get attendees from all over Latin America.

August 05, 2014

Percona Live London Call for Presentations

Europe traditionally doesn’t have many MySQL-dedicated conferences, which is why I personally enjoy Percona Live London, now in its 2014 Edition. This year it happens November 3-4, and the call for presentations is still open — till August 17th.

DSCF1396The topic list is growing as the MySQL ecosystem matures: DevOps, cloud, security, case studies and what’s new are things you don’t often see. Tutorials are also welcome, of course.

Location-wise, London can’t be beat. And happening at Gloucester Road, you’re on the District/Circle/Picadilly lines to go to many fun places.

If you don’t want to present, do attend – registration is open. Early-bird (ending August 31st) conference & tutorials will set you back £425.00 and if you just want to attend the conference only, its £235.00 (VAT and fees excluded). A steal if you ask me!

See you there!

July 30, 2014

Linode Docs Now Open Source on GitHub

docsFive years ago today we launched the Linode Library – a free, public resource for guides on subjects ranging from Linux basics to complex multi-system configurations. We’ve given our docs a much needed facelift in our new Guides & Tutorials section of our site. This new format should make finding and following the guides much easier.

Our entire catalog of guides is now hosted on GitHub. While our guides have always been licensed under Creative Commons, we hope this makes it easier to contribute. Using GitHub, we’ve opened it up for you, the reader, to make recommendations on instructional revisions, suggest new guides on interesting topics, and ultimately contribute back to the community.

Our bounty program has also been streamlined. In addition to email, you can now submit a bounty article as a pull request on GitHub.

As always, our guides and tutorials are there for everyone to use, even those who aren’t Linode users yet. By making them available on GitHub, we can foster greater collaboration and get the best information to you, the reader. Enjoy!

July 24, 2014

Flock: Behind the Scenes 4

Another set of news and tips from the organization of Flock 2014:

Offline guide for Guidebook.com – I’ve published an offline guide for Guidebook.com. You can download their apps for Android or iOS and they even have a web mobile version, so you can use it on other platforms, too. The “Flock 2014″ is currently pending approval, but it should be available really soon (UPDATE: it’s been approved and is available!). The guide contains the conference schedule, maps (conference venue, how to get to parties, hotel,…), information about social events, lunches,  Diplomat Hotel, Sinkuleho dormitories, mobile data plans, public transport in Prague, taxi services, useful websites and apps for visiting Prague, numbers and contacts for emergency situations. You can also connect with other attendees through it or receive important messages from us, organizers, during the conference.

Some tips:

Transport in Prague – a lot of people ask about this because every Flock attendee will have to get around in Prague somehow. I strongly recommend you use public transport. The Prague public transport has been rated as 4th best in Europe. It’s safe, cheap and runs 24/7. You can find more info about it on the Transportation page at flocktofedora.org. Taxi drivers in Prague have generally a bad reputation because of overcharging. It’s not really necessary to take a taxi from the airport to Hotel Diplomat or Sinkuleho dormitories because it’s very easy and quick by bus. If you need to take a taxi, it’s better to order it via an app or call rather than flagging it down on a street. Recommended taxi companies:

  • Tick Tack – comfortable Audi A6 and A8 cars, accepts also credit cards or euros, multimedia passenger system where you can track the taxi on a map, watch TVs, wifi on board, power plugs, phone number: 14222.

Mobile Data Plans – many of us with smart phones can’t imagine being without Internet connection and data roaming is still pretty expensive in most countries. For this purpose, you can buy a Czech SIM card and prepay a data plan. There are three mobile network providers (Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2) and a handful of virtual operators (TESCO Mobile, Sazka Mobile, Mobil.cz,…). See emails from me and Jaroslav Řezník for data plans and price comparison. Vodafone has a store right in the arrivals hall of the Prague airport. T-Mobile and O2 have stores on Vítězné náměstí (Victory Square) which is just a few minutes from Diplomat Hotel and Sinkuleho dormitories. Mobile networks in the Czech Republic are based on GSM 900 and 1800, Edge, 3G and Prague should be fully covered by LTE.

Useful websites and apps for visiting Prague:

My Prague – interactive guide to Prague, hundreds of points of interest, web app at mypragueapp.com or in Google Play and App Store.

Prague Minos Guide – a comprehensive guide to Prague, hundreds of points of interest, offline maps,… in Google Play and App Store.

CG Transit – the best app for timetables and searching journeys, timetables are paid for, but have free one-month trials, in Google Play and App Store.

Other timetables and transport connection searching – website IDOS.cz, Pubtran (for Android), Jízdní řády iDNES.cz (for iPhone).

Google Maps use local timetables to find the best journey using public transport in Prague. The easest way to get around!

SMS ticket – an app that makes purchasing sms tickets for public transport faster and more convenient, but you still need to have a Czech sim card, Google Play, App Store.

Sejf – an app that allows you to pay for public transport tickets and other services (parking,…) even if you don’t have a Czech sim card, Google Play, App Store.

Czech Money – yes, the Czech Republic hasn’t adopted euro, but still has Czech crowns (CZK). The Czech National Bank has created an app to show what coins and banknotes look like and what are their security measurements so that you never get fooled by fake money. Google Play, App Store.
Lunchtime – lists daily lunch options in near restaurants, lunchtime.cz or in Google Play or App Store.

Cheapest Taxi Prague – an app that helps you order a taxi, in Google Play and App Store.

Taxi.eu – another app that helps you order a taxi, not only for Prague, in Google Play and App Store, or web app.

If you know other useful websites and apps I’ll be happy if you share them with others in comments.


July 22, 2014

Flock: Behind the Scenes 3

I’ve got another set of updates from the Flock organization for you:

Flock apps for BB10 and SailfishOS – Jaroslav Řezník has created a mobile app for those who are using Blackberry 10 system (is there anyone out there?). The Jolla phone and its SailfishOS has been quite popular among open source geeks. If you have one, check out an app that was created by Jozef Mlích. It’s available in the OpenRepos. So together with the Android app, I wrote about in the first article, we already have three apps. I’m also working on an offline guide for Guidebook.com.

Social events – we finally made a decision about social events (what, where, when). There will be one on Wednesday and the main one will be on Thursday. We’re also thinking about organizing an unofficial kind of gathering in some pub on Tuesday where you can come to meet others after you arrive to Prague and get accommodated.

Printouts – Sirko Kemter is working on conference booklets. The last thing he was missing was information about social events which is now solved. Ryan Lerch has prepared badges. They will be from the same vendor as last year, produced in the U.S. and brought to Prague. We’re looking for a volunteer who would help us with navigation signs and mainly schedules we will post on doors of lecture rooms.

And some tips for the promised section “Getting ready for the trip to Flock”:

  • Money – I’ve already been asked by several people what currency they should bring to the Czech Republic. Believe or not even though the Czech Republic is a member of the EU we don’t have euro. Our currency is Czech crown (CZK). Would you like to get more familiar with the Czech coins and bills? Download a mobile app release by The Czech National Bank. It will show you all details and security measurements.  You won’t make a mistake if you bring euros or US dollars because these are the most widely accepted foreign currencies in exchange offices. Euro is even accepted in some stores, restaurants, or gas stations. GBP or CHF are also fine while not as common as € or $. You’ll be able to exchange other currencies, too, but you most likely will get worse exchange rates. Payment cards (Mastercard, VISA) are quite widely accepted and if you need cash you can get it from ATMs which are at every corner. So I recommend you bring just little cash with you from home. And prices? The Czech Republic is a fairly cheap country. You can check a list of price samples by expact.cz or prices for tourists in Prague by PriceOfTravel.com.
  • Language – believe or not the language of the Czech Republic is not English (I met several people in Asia who were surprised that English is not the (only) native language in Europe), it’s… surprise, surprise… Czech. Czech is a West Slavic language which is very similar to Slovak, fairly similar to Polish and Slovenian, and only remotely similar to Russian and other East Slavic languages. I heard that some of Flock attendees’ve started learning Czech to make a nice touch while communicating with locals. Czech is said to be difficult, but read tips by an Irish polyglot who learned Czech in just 2 months and says it’s not difficult at all! The most common foreign language is English. Almost all people under 30 have learned it at primary and secondary school, but only 10% of the population rate their English proficiency as good. The second most common language is German. It used to compete with English for the status of the first foreign language, but has been completely ran over by English in the recent years, but is still the second foreign language at most schools. Other common foreign languages are French, Spanish, and Italian, but they have much fewer speakers here than English and German. Russian was a mandatory language at schools before 1989, but this language won’t help you much in the Czech Republic nowadays unfortunately. Most people who learned it don’t remember it any more because they learned it because they had to, not because they wanted to, and they never really practiced it.

July 20, 2014

OSCON 2014 – Crash Course in Open Source Cloud Computing

I’ll be presenting an updated version of my Crash Course on Open Source Cloud Computing presentation at OSCON 2014. I have some new material on Docker and SDN along with the latest updates on cloud software. Here’s the official excerpt:

The open source mantra is to release early and release often. That means software velocity can be difficult to keep up with. This discussion will expand on the latest open source software used to deliver and manage cloud computing infrastructure. Topics covered include virtualization (KVM, Xen Project, LXC), orchestration (OpenStack, CloudStack, Eucalyptus), and other complimentary technology.

Here’s the link to the slides on Slideshare.

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July 18, 2014

An invisible part of the Free Software Foundation Europe

In all organisations you have people, who do crucial work which is invisible to the public. But without them, the organisation would not function. In the FSFE, one of this people who takes care of a lot of invisible tasks is Reinhard Müller. After maintaining FSFE’s website, coordinating FSFE’s translation team, and taking care of our Fellowship database for many years, in 2007 he volunteered to be FSFE’s Financial Officer. With this post I want to offer you an insight into the invisible tasks performed by Reinhard.

Karsten and Reinhard working together Karsten, with FSCONS shirt, and Reinhard, with Mach Dich Frei shirt, working Matthias Kirschner CC BY-SA

July 11, 2014

FSFE’s German speaking team meeting 2014

From 13 – 15 June 2014 FSFE had its German speaking team meeting in the Linuxhotel in Essen. The participants had some problems to travel there because of the chaos resulting from a heavy thunderstorm in the region. A lot of train lines where not functional, and the situation on the streets was also chaotic. But just because no ICE trains stop in Essen does not mean we will not continue our work for Free Software. In the end we were able to bring all volunteers to the Linuxhotel.

The two buildings from Linuxhotel linuxhotel_landschaft Linuxhotel CC BY-SA

June 30, 2014

Scancation - Scanning the Standing Stones of the Outer Hebrides

I just came back from a vacation where Kio and I went and visited most of the megalithic monuments on the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Stone circles are all over the place on these islands and the biggest one is the Callanish Stone Circle. One of the cool things about these places is that there is very little history known about them and so all you can know about them is from your experience of being around them. Most of them all taller than me and you get the sense that these places were the sacred spaces of 5000 years ago.

One of the things I say a lot at MakerBot is that they really make the most sense when you connect your MakerBot to your passion. Since I'm into rocks. I scanned a few of my favorite stones and ran them through 123D Catch which makes a 3D model from up to 70 photos of the object. It’s pretty cool to think that yesterday I was walking among these stones and today I’m printing them out on the MakerBots in my office. 

It’s interesting to note that this feels a lot like the old days of vacation film photography. The process of processing the photos into a 3D model feels a lot like when I used to develop celluloid film after a vacation.

Someday, printing 3D models will be normal for everyone, for now, it’s just normal for all the MakerBot operators in the world.

If you decide to go on your own scanning vacation, aka scancation, here’s my process and tips for acquiring models. I use a Canon S110 camera and then upload my photos later to the 123D Catch site and then upload all the models and a zip file of all the photos to Thingiverse because the photogrammetry software will get better someday and I want to have an archive of the photos so I can make better models later.

 

  • Lighting conditions matter. A cloudy sky is much better than a sunny one so that you can get all the details of your subject. 
  • Fill the frame, but make sure to leave some area around the object in the picture. 123D Catch uses reference points in the object to make everything fit together. 
  • Use all 70 pictures allowed by the software. The more pictures, the better the scan. 
  • Scan weird things. Sometimes the most iconic stuff of a location isn’t the most obvious. Some friends of mine scanned all of Canal St. in NYC and said the interesting parts were the giant piles of trash bags which are one of the local overlooked pieces of landscape art.
  • Don’t forget the top view. If you are capturing a subject that is tall, do your best to get above it and take a picture. A quadcopter could be handy for that
  • Fix it up with Netfabb. After I upload the photos into the 123D Catch online portal, then I use Netfabb basic to slice off all the weird parts and cut a flat bottom onto the object.
  • Make sure to upload your scans to Thingiverse. We can all make models of your SCANCATION. 

 

Do you have any other scanning tips for those that would like to experiment with vacation scanning? Leave them in the comments!

June 23, 2014

A country list - good for all

If you are a web developer, pc software programmer, app developer, Linux distro packager you have probably heard many complaints from your users about you list of countries and country codes.
Most of the complaint come from people not finding their country on the list. For example, Europe has changed a lot in the last two decades. Countries have dissolved and new ones were created. There are changes in Asia, Africa and in South America.

June 22, 2014

the meaning of a word

i learned the word "feminist" at my first job. I was 15 and a trainee engineer in a hydro power scheme. I recall one young man I worked with asking me urgently if i was a feminist. I asked what that was. he said, "women who hate men". oh.. i'm not one of them....

why would i get a job as the only woman deep in a power station if i hated men? It was a long long time before i heard any other definition of feminist.

June 20, 2014

Launceston June Meeting

G'day all

For this month's Launceston meeting, Phil will be giving us an introduction to NAS4Free, a BSD licenced fork/continuation of FreeNAS.

2:00pm
Saturday 28th June
Royal Oak
Launceston


As usual, some of us will be meeting for lunch beforehand at 1:00pm.

Hope to see you there!

Google Maps Link

NAS4Free Website
-----
Gov Hack 2014: June 11-13th (Hobart venue)
OpenStack 4th Birthday: June 17th (RSVP here: http://taslug-openstack.eventbrite.com.au/ )
Next Launceston meeting: 2:00pm July 26th (Topic TBC)

June 11, 2014

Hobart meeting - June 19th - (The aptosid fullstory)

Welcome to June. Yep. short days... stout beers. And source. LOTS OF SOURCE! I'm in the
middle of my exam session at uni so won't have time to prepare the usual slides and news
this month.

When: Thursday, June 19th, 18:00 for an 18:30 start
Where: Upstairs, Hotel Soho, 124 Davey St, Hobart.

Agenda:

18:00 - early mingle, chin wagging, discussion and install issues etc

19:00 - Trevor Walkley - aptosid fullstory


    This months talk will be given by Trevor Walkley, an aptosid
    dev,(bluewater on IRC), on building an iso using aptosid fullstory
    scripts which are currently held on github (and the 'how to do it' is
    not well known).

    A live build will take place (hopefully debian sid will cooperate on the
    night) followed by a live installation of the build to the famous milk
    crate computer belonging Scott, (faulteh on IRC).

20:00 - Meeting end. Dinner and drinks are available at the venue during the meeting.

We will probably get to a discussion on the Hobart LCA 2017 bid, ideas for upcoming
Software Freedom Day in September, Committee nomination and voting,
so our pre-talk discussion should be packed full of jam.

Also in June:
28th - Launceston meeting
July:
11-13th - Gov Hack 2014 - There's at least a Hobart venue for this event.
17th - OpenStack 4th Birthday - RSVP here: http://taslug-openstack.eventbrite.com.au/
September:
20th - Software Freedom Day - events in Hobart and Launceston

June 10, 2014

Integrate ToDo.txt into Claws Mail

I use Claws Mail for many years now. I like to call it “the mutt mail client for people who prefer a graphical user interface”. Like Mutt, Claws is really powerful and allows you to adjust it exactly to your needs. During the last year I began to enjoy managing my open tasks with ToDo.txt. A powerful but still simple way to manage your tasks based on text files. This allows me not only to manage my tasks on my computer but also to keep it in sync with my mobile devices. But there is one thing I always missed. Often a task starts with an email conversation and I always wanted to be able to transfer a mail easily to as task in a way, that the task links back to the original mail conversation. Finally I found some time to make it happen and this is the result:

To integrate ToDo.txt into Claws-Mail I wrote the Python program mail2todotxt.py. You need to pass the path to the mail you want to add as parameter. By default the program will create a ToDo.txt task which looks like this:


<task_creation_date> <subject_of_the_mail> <link_to_the_mail>

Additionally you can call the program with the parameter “-i” to switch to the interactive mode. Now the program will ask you for a task description and will use the provided description instead of the mail subject. If you don’t enter a subscription the program will fall back to the mail subject as task description. To use the interactive mode you need to install the Gtk3 Python bindings.

To call this program directly from Claws Mail you need to go to Configuration->Actions and create a action to execute following command:


/path_to_mail2todotxt/mail2todotxt.py -i %f &

Just skip the -i parameter if you always want to use the subject as task description. Now you can execute the program for the selected mail by calling Tools->Actions-><The_name_you_chose_for_the_action>. Additional you can add a short-cut if you wish, e.g. I use “Ctrl-t” to create a new task.

Now that I’m able to transfer a mail to a ToDo.txt item I also want to go back to the mail while looking at my open tasks. Therefore I use the “open” action from Sebastian Heinlein which I extended with an handler to open claws mail links. After you added this action to your ~/.todo.action.d you can start Claws-Mail and jump directly to the referred mail by typing:


t open <task_number_which_referes_to_a_mail>

The original version of the “open” action can be found at Gitorious. The modified version you need to open the Claws-Mail links can be found here.

June 06, 2014

Bodhi 2 FAD

I just came back from the Bodhi 2 FAD in Denver.

I flew from Paris on Saturday 31st morning. Luke, Kevin, Ricky and I started hacking on Sunday morning, the other participants arriving during the day.

The first two days, I started with many small things, as a warm up: packaging in Fedora some of the Bodhi 2 dependencies, escaping raw HTML in forms, adding license headers to all files, fixing some small issues in the update management,...

On Tuesday I implemented the whole release management. This area is particularly lacking in Bodhi 1, but Bodhi 2 should be a big improvement:

  • releng can't create a new release in Bodhi 1 when branching it (i.e when creating it in Git, Koji, PkgDB,...) because we don't use Bodhi right away (we start using it only at Alpha freeze). With Bodhi 2, a release can be created but kept disabled, which fixes this annoyance
  • when a Fedora release reaches end-of-life, we delete it from the Bodhi 1 database, which makes us lose all metrics, and breaks all the URLs to the updates pushed for these old releases. With Bodhi 2, we can now « archive » an old release, so that it doesn't appear in the web UI any more, we can't push updates for it any more, but URLs of old updates will still work.
  • the Release Engineers regularly need to resort to a TurboGears 1 shell to enter some Python code in order to create / modify a release in Bodhi 1. Bodhi 2 now exposes a web API to manage releases, and a command-line tool which uses this API.

Before dinner, I then quickly implemented the file-based creation of updates as needed by « fedpkg update ».

On Wednesday, I started implementing the management of buildroot overrides, tagging the build appropriately in Koji, ... That's not all done though, so I'll try to finish it in the next few days. :-)

We also had some discussions about the mashing process. We haven't decided whether we'd use the koji-mash plugin I wrote, or the more generic « run any command as root » plugin, but now that we have a working staging instance of Koji we should be able to test them and take the decision.

Overall, it was a great event. We made lots of progress, and had tons of fun.

Finally, I'd like to thank Ralph for organizing the event, Kevin for picking me up at the airport on Saturday, Tim for bringing me to the airport on Thursday (at 7am!), and Red Hat for funding my trip.

It was my first FAD, and I loved it. Looking forward to the next one. :-)

May 23, 2014

European Elections: get out and vote!

The European Elections are happening this weekend. In Portugal, they're on Sunday, but my first message goes to all Europeans: go out and vote. You think we're heading in the right direction? Go out and say it. You think we're heading in the wrong direction? Go out and say it. You're not planning to go out and vote because you're fed up with politics and politicians? Well, if you're fed up with the ones you have, go out and vote for others - if you don't, others will choose for yourself, and you'll still be fed up. In summary: there's no reason not to vote.

Vote!

My second message goes towards the Portuguese people. I am not going to tell you how to vote: that's really up to you. You have a life, and your life is deeply impacted by European politics. The countries finances, the money you have on your pocket, even the currency you use, the taxes you pay, the choices you're able to make, the laws you have, the things you do. So, even if you think you're not, you're fully capable of choosing for yourself, and to choose who will better defend your interests. So, with that in mind, I urge you pay attention to the choices that are laid out in front of you. You have sixteen (16!) parties to choose from. Pick one, go out, vote.

These are your options next Sunday:


Aliança Portugal (AP: PSD + CDS-PP)
Bloco de Esquerda (BE)
Coligação Democrática Unitária (CDU: PCP + PEV)
Livre
Movimento Alternativa Socialista (MAS)
Nova Democracia (PND)
Partido Comunista dos Trabalhadores Portugueses (PCTP/MRPP)
Partido da Terra (MPT)
Partido Democrático do Atlântico (PDA)
Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR)
Partido Operário de Unidade Socialista (POUS)
Partido pelos Animais e pela Natureza (PAN)
Partido Popular Monárquico (PPM)
Partido Socialista (PS)
Partido Trabalhista Português (PTP)
Portugal pro Vida (PPV)

I've also made a small summary and comparison text about the position of these parties, if you're interested. I'm sorry it isn't as complete as I wished it to be, but it might be helpful all the same. If you're interested, read it here.

Sunday is a great day: one of those days you can make a difference, where you can speak up and say what do you want in your life, your future. Don't let others decide for you. Vote!

May 07, 2014

gom in Fedora

I've been experimenting with gom, the GObject data mapper recently.

With a lot of help from Bastien Nocera, I eventually managed to get started using it as an experiment for one of my projects.

I have to say I'm quite impressed. Sure, writing GObject code is super verbose, but then managing objects and properties is so much nicer than managing strings full of SQL queries. And I hear the verbosity might be greatly reduced in the near future! :-D

Long story short, I've started building gom packages from Git snapshots in a Copr.

I'll eventually push it to Fedora proper, but I'd rather wait for an actual release. Maybe in time for GNOME 3.14?

In the meantime, if you want to try it out, go grab the packages from the Copr. Gom is under quick development, and now is a great time to test it and ensure it has the features your application needs. For example, I needed boolean properties and columns with a UNIQUE constraint, and both are now possible in master. :-)

Now to play some more with it...

April 23, 2014

U talking to me?

This upstirring undertaking Ubuntu is, as my colleague MPT explains, performance art. Not only must it be art, it must also perform, and that on a deadline. So many thanks and much credit to the teams and individuals who made our most recent release, the Trusty Tahr, into the gem of 14.04 LTS. And after the uproarious ululation and post-release respite, it’s time to open the floodgates to umpteen pent-up changes and begin shaping our next show.

The discipline of an LTS constrains our creativity – our users appreciate the results of a focused effort on performance and stability and maintainability, and we appreciate the spring cleaning that comes with a focus on technical debt. But the point of spring cleaning is to make room for fresh ideas and new art, and our next release has to raise the roof in that regard. And what a spectacular time to be unleashing creativity in Ubuntu. We have the foundations of convergence so beautifully demonstrated by our core apps teams – with examples that shine on phone and tablet and PC. And we have equally interesting innovation landed in the foundational LXC 1.0, the fastest, lightest virtual machines on the planet, born and raised on Ubuntu. With an LTS hot off the press, now is the time to refresh the foundations of the next generation of Linux: faster, smaller, better scaled and better maintained. We’re in a unique position to bring useful change to the ubiquitary Ubuntu developer, that hardy and precise pioneer of frontiers new and potent.

That future Ubuntu developer wants to deliver app updates instantly to users everywhere; we can make that possible. They want to deploy distributed brilliance instantly on all the clouds and all the hardware. We’ll make that possible. They want PAAS and SAAS and an Internet of Things that Don’t Bite, let’s make that possible. If free software is to fulfil its true promise it needs to be useful for people putting precious parts into production, and we’ll stand by our commitment that Ubuntu be the most useful platform for free software developers who carry the responsibilities of Dev and Ops.

It’s a good time to shine a light on umbrageous if understandably imminent undulations in the landscape we love – time to bring systemd to the centre of Ubuntu, time to untwist ourselves from Python 2.x and time to walk a little uphill and, thereby, upstream. Time to purge the ugsome and prune the unusable. We’ve all got our ucky code, and now’s a good time to stand united in favour of the useful over the uncolike and the utile over the uncous. It’s not a time to become unhinged or ultrafidian, just a time for careful review and consideration of business as usual.

So bring your upstanding best to the table – or the forum – or the mailing list – and let’s make something amazing. Something unified and upright, something about which we can be universally proud. And since we’re getting that once-every-two-years chance to make fresh starts and dream unconstrained dreams about what the future should look like, we may as well go all out and give it a dreamlike name. Let’s get going on the utopic unicorn. Give it stick. See you at vUDS.

April 06, 2014

Books and Music in 2013

Another year gone. Just like in years before, here's a recommendation of music and books, from what has been released during the year (in the case of music), and what I've read in 2013 (for books). Note that there are other, great 2013 music releases, that I only got my hands on in 2014, and those aren't on this list. Without further ado:

Books:


* Neal Stephenson - The Mongoliad (Books 2 and 3)
* Iain M. Banks - The Hydrogen Sonata
* Cory Doctorow's fiction - The Rapture of Nerds and Pirate Cinema
* Music - Looking For Europe
* Tech - Videojogos em Portugal

Music:


* Kokori - Release Candid Hate (Vinyl)
* Gvar - Vraii (Cass)
* Charanga - Borda Tu! (CD)
* Dismal - Giostra Di Vapori (CD)
* Mindless Self Indulgence - How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self Indulgence (CD)

March 30, 2014

Upcoming Greenboard deployment

fossasia-group-sOver the past few months we have been busy introducing the Greenboard project in a few places, namely at Teach for China in Shantou and at FOSSASIA in Phnom Penh to name just two places. Both have been very interested in the concept, its flexibility, past deployments and more importantly using it within their environment.

greenboard-teamWe are now working on refurbishing a classroom of sixty computers in a school not too far from Shantou, classroom which was installed ten years ago and has never ever been used. Of course not all the machines start (in fact only 15 out of 60) but the room is properly set up and looks like a very nice place to start in the region. The people we are working with from Teach for China are very motivated as well which brings a lot to the equation.

usaidOn the Cambodian side, the discussions we had with USAID and the representative from the Ministry of Education were very positive too. We will have further discussions during April and need to start checking the translation status of all the components we use. Luckily the person in charge of packaging Greenboard happens to be Cambodian too!

All in all we are pretty excited about what’s coming ahead of us and will work hard to make it happen. Stay connected to learn more as the projects move forward!

March 29, 2014

Upcoming Greenboard deployments

Over the past few months we have been busy introducing the Greenboard project in a few places, namely at Teach for China in Shantou and at FOSSASIA in Phnom Penh to name just two places. Both have been very interested in the concept, its flexibility, past deployments and more importantly using it within their environment.

We are now working on refurbishing a classroom of sixty computers in a school not too far from Shantou, classroom which was installed ten years ago and has never ever been used. Of course not all the machines start (in fact only 15 out of 60) but the room is properly set up and looks like a very nice place to start in the region. The people we are working with from Teach for ChinaTeach for China are very motivated as well which brings a lot to the equation.

On the Cambodian side, the discussions we had with USAID and the representative from the Ministry of Education were very positive too. We will have further discussions during April and need to start checking the translation status of all the components we use. Luckily the person in charge of packaging Greenboard happens to be Cambodian too!

All in all we are pretty excited about what's coming ahead of us and will work hard to make it happen. Stay connected to learn more as the projects move forward!

March 28, 2014

Promote OpenClipart on Culture Freedom Day!

As Culture Freedom Day preparation is ongoing we got the chance to meet up with Jon Philips from the Open Clipart Library, a good friend of ours and a strong supporter of our events. Jon kindly authored a video to support us and encourage participants to take a closer look at the Open Clipart Library new website design and functionalities. So without further ado we will let Jon do the presentation and thank him and the Open Clipart team for their support!

So don't forget to use and showcase the Open Clipart Library at your event!

March 17, 2014

ACPI, firmware and your security

ACPI comes from an era when the operating system was proprietary and couldn’t be changed by the hardware manufacturer.

We don’t live in that era any more.

However, we DO live in an era where any firmware code running on your phone, tablet, PC, TV, wifi router, washing machine, server, or the server running the cloud your SAAS app is running on, is a threat vector against you.

If you read the catalogue of spy tools and digital weaponry provided to us by Edward Snowden, you’ll see that firmware on your device is the NSA’s best friend. Your biggest mistake might be to assume that the NSA is the only institution abusing this position of trust – in fact, it’s reasonable to assume that all firmware is a cesspool of insecurity courtesy of incompetence of the worst degree from manufacturers, and competence of the highest degree from a very wide range of such agencies.

In ye olden days, a manufacturer would ship Windows, which could not be changed, and they wanted to innovate on the motherboard, so they used firmware to present a standard interface for things like power management to a platform that could not modified to accommodate their innovation.

Today, that same manufacturer can innovate on the hardware and publish a patch for Linux to express that innovation – and Linux is almost certainly the platform that matters. If Windows enters this market then the Windows driver model can evolve to give manufacturers this same ability to innovate in the Windows world, where proprietary unverifiable blobs are the norm.

Arguing for ACPI on your next-generation device is arguing for a trojan horse of monumental proportions to be installed in your living room and in your data centre. I’ve been to Troy, there is not much left.

We’ve spent a good deal of time working towards a world where you can inspect the code that is running on any device you run. In Ubuntu we work hard to make sure that any issues in that code can be fixed and delivered right away to millions of users. Bruce Schneier wisely calls security a process, not a product. But the processes for finding and fixing problems in firmware are non-existent and not improving.

I would very much like to be part of FIXING the security problem we engineers have created in our rush to ship products in the olden days. I’m totally committed to that.

So from my perspective:

  • Upstream kernel is the place to deliver the software portion of the innovation you’re selling. We have great processes now to deliver that innovation to users, and the same processes help us improve security and efficiency too.
  • Declarative firmware that describes hardware linkages and dependencies but doesn’t include executable code is the best chance we have of real bottom-up security. The Linux device tree is a very good starting point. We have work to do to improve it, and we need to recognise the importance of being able to fix declarations over the life of a product, but we must not introduce blobs in order to short cut that process.

Let’s do this right. Each generation gets its turn to define the platforms it wants to pass on – let’s pass on something we can be proud of.

Our mission in Ubuntu is to give the world’s people a free platform they can trust.  I suspect a lot of the Linux community is motivated by the same goal regardless of their distro. That also means finding ways to ensure that those trustworthy platforms can’t be compromised elsewhere. We can help vendors innovate AND ensure that users have a fighting chance of privacy and security in this brave new world. But we can’t do that if we cling to the tools of the past. Don’t cave in to expediency. Design a better future, it really can be much healthier than the present if we care and act accordingly.

 

February 21, 2014

Some updates (EFD, Greenboard, etc)

We are getting back with some good and bad news. On the bad side we will not be able to run any Education Freedom Day event in Hong Kong this year as we actually need to take care of some urgent personal problems. On the good news side we will be discussing with several organizations in the coming weeks about Greenboard deployments including Teach For China in Shantou this weekend and more located in Cambodia next weekend. We are very excited about those potential opportunities and hope to have a lot more to tell soon. And of course you can definitely attend our next development session here in Hong Kong and get a better feeling about some of the things we do. Thanks and happy FOSS'ing!

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Digital Freedom International (Aka SFI) is the non-profit organization at the origin of SFD and CFD. DFI handles sponsorship contracts, official team registrations, sending out schwags to teams, the annual Best Event Competition and many other things. Hundreds of teams around the world manage the local celebration and help to send out a global message. So do drop by and attend an SFD and CFD event nearby!

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