Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day

So many people have been inspirational and helpful. First I must mention my children, who opened me up to learning so much. One of them, Thomas (qubes), is the Ubuntu user who got me using Linux in the first place, and Kubuntu as my present distro. Thanks to you Thomas for all your help through the years.

In Ubuntu-Women, I found not just inspiration, but the examples I needed to get involved with the community. Lydia (Nightrose) in particular has been a beacon to my path. Here ability to pack every day with so many useful activities is an accomplishment to which I still aspire. Thank you Lydia! I learn from you every day. Myriam (Mamarok) with her wealth of technical knowledge and willingness to help one and all, is a daily inspiration as well. Recently, she stepped up to the task of creating and perfecting the spreadsheet we needed to bulk upload tasks for Google CodeIn. It was amazing. Thank you so much, Mamarok. Mackenzie (maco) - how can I thank you enough? Your friendship through the years has been wonderful. Amber (akgraner), you shine with a warm glow, like the jewel you are named. Your friendly open enthusiasm has shaped U-W into the great project it is. And you continue to spark your energy into new projects, which pick up that same golden glow. Akkana (akk), I have long admired not only your curiousity and knowledge, but your willingness to share. Once you got a successful career as an author going, you went on to public speaking! I love it - thank you for your example, your work, your kindness.

Within Kubuntu, and through that, the KDEMultimedia team, Harald (apachelogger) and Trever (tdfischer) have become daily inspirations to me. When they encounter difficulties, they code! I don't code, but I can do my own work, even when times are tough. Thank you, Harald and Trever for your example. And all the bad jokes, and good music. :-)

On the local level, I'd like to thank three people in particular, Linda (Althara), Ben (bkrensa) and Michael (MJEvans). Linda shows the leadership and on-going patience to try to get our Washington LoCo going, in spite of low numbers and barely-enough enthusiasm to keep it going. We'll do it, Linda! Thank you for being you. Ben down in Portland, meanwhile, is unstoppable! His tremendous joy and generosity are infectious. Thank you for being my friend, Ben. You keep me jazzed. Michael, you have helped me so much through the years, and your patience and willingness to keep on keeping on is an inspiration to me. Thank you, Michael. You keep me focussed on Doing It Right.

Finally, my co-authors! Karan (wizardKaran), Supreet and Rohan (shadeslayer) - thank you so much for including me in your group. The week we spent at Google writing a book was just mind-bending. It feels so cool to look at a copy of our book and know that I created it with you guys! We did it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thinking Together for Success

Tonight I heard an excellent interview on Fresh Air called How Birth Control And Abortion Became Politicized. Don't worry, I'm not going to write about politics, history, or medical procedures! I was struck by how positions on this subject have changed over the years. And yet many Americans now line up on one side or the other, and little dialogue is taking place between the two sides. As a consequence, my country is making little progress in resolving this issue. We have a shocking number of unwanted pregnancies here, with little discussion about improving the situation.

I just finished an interesting book about religion and politics by Francis Shaeffer (Sex, Mom and God), where he makes an eloquent lament about the same issue, and he's been on all sides of it, including creating the Religious Right in the US with his father and some others. When people stop listening to one another, they stop thinking together, which is the process we need to solve the really tough problems.

I'm reading again the excellent Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together. The author illustrates many tough problems which have been successfully solved in dialogue, and some cases where dialogue broke down, and why. Unfortunately, the most often used attempts we are making to solve problems and make decisions aren't as effective as they could be. I see this in Western culture, and in Free and Open Source Software. I see a lot of conversations which turn into an airing of long-held positions, arguments, and debates, instead of creativity, fresh thinking, and problem solving.

There is another way, and I thank those in Linux who are fostering team-building, sprints, and larger in-person meetings such as Canonical's UDS, the KDE e.V.'s sprints, Akademy, Desktop Summits, and the GNOME Foundation's Guadecs and Desktop Summits. So much great dialogue can happen in those gatherings! There are other excellent groups sponsoring other opportunities for people to dialogue, but these are the ones I've experienced. I'd like to see us carry out dialogue on our mailing lists, blogs, forums and on IRC as well as our face-to-face meetings.

To the extent that people can begin to listen to one another as much as talk about their own knowledge and ideas, we'll begin to think together more and more, and craft more amazing solutions to our common problems. Until we learn how to do this better, we'll be a minority movement. We have to offer not just better software than the closed, unfree stuff, but also an attractive community, where we model mutual respect and helpful partnership.

This week I've read some really discouraging blog comments, IRC discussions, and mail list threads. We can do better! And we must do better, if we want to be ultimately successful. This isn't about enforcing codes of conduct, but about listening, and engaging in thinking, together. As Mahatma Gandhi said, Be the change you want to see in the world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Help KDE e.V. secure funding for a sprint with just a few clicks

Some weeks ago Lydia blogged about a German bank giving away 1000 euros for each 1000 associations who can get the most votes. Well, until four days ago we were at postion 320, now we are at 735 and falling. Please, read Lydia's post about how to vote and help KDE e.V., it is just a few clicks. I'll include the directions here for speed. Remember, you'll be sent an email with a link, which you must click, and click a button on that page too. AND you can do this three times! I've done my three votes, have you?
A German bank is giving away 1000 Euro each to the 1000 associations who can get the most votes. Everyone has 3 votes. Please do vote with all 3 for KDE. With just a few clicks you can make a difference!
Here’s what you have to do:
1) go to and click “Stimme abgeben”
2) enter your email and the captcha it asks for and then click“absenden”
3) you’ll get an email to confirm your vote – click the link in the email
4) you’ll get to a website – click “Stimme abgeben”

You can do this 3 times in a row. If KDE is among the top 1000 associations we’ll get 1000 Euro.