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Linux.conf.au 2009 – Call for papers

Linux.conf.au is heading down south to Tasmania in 2009, so if you fancy a trip down south and you have some technical knowledge you’d like to share – put your name forward as a speaker! Ben Powell from the “March South” organising team emailed me to let me know that the Call for Papers is now on. Check out the details at the LCA page. You can also suggest a “mini-conf” topic.

I tried to get some more tidbits of news out of him, but could only get this: “We have two international speakers confirmed so far and I’m currently chasing the final one who is likely to be local.” So it looks like they’re continuing the tradition of having 2 overseas keynotes and 1 local keynote. That’s good to hear. πŸ™‚

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OpenAustralia.org beta – a tool for online democracy in Australia

I’ve just plastered this news all over Crikey, but had to give OpenAustralia.org a big plug here too. This is a project – based on open source principles -to put Hansard (the official report of the debates and proceedings of Parliament) online and make it searchable. People in the open source community have been talking about doing this for a while – don’t underestimate what a big task it must have been. How wonderful it’s happening!

Inspired by the UK’s They Work for You project, OpenAustralia also lets you look up your local representative, see what they’ve been talking about in Parliament, and get stats on their work.

For example, when I look up my local MP, I can see the issues he’s recently broached in parliament, and that he’s spoken in 41 debates in the last year, among other information.

Β All the software behind this project is open source and freely available here – so please consider yourself encouraged to pitch in and help this fantastic online project devoted to helping people see what their pollies are doing.

Congratulations to the team behind OpenAustralia – Matthew Landauer, Katherine Szuminska, Bruno Mattarollo, Matthew Panetta and Wade Millican. πŸ™‚

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Launching Geek Girl Dinners Melbourne

Not strictly Open Source, but I’m hoping that we’ll get lots of support and interest from the Open Source community. πŸ™‚

Anne-Marie and I would like to invite each and every Melbourne geek woman to join us for the first Melbourne Geek Girl Dinner on Thursday, 29 May.
We’ll be meeting at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Dinner is at 100 Mile Cafe, Level 3, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe Street.
This is the first dinner for the Melbourne Group, so we’re calling it 0.1 – a planning dinner. The usual format will be an informal dinner with a technical talk by one of the members or guests. The first dinner won’t have a speaker, we’ll be brainstorming and planning what we’d like to do with the Melbourne group – and most importantly creating a list of the technical women who are based in Melbourne who we’d like to invite to speak at future dinners.
If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to sarah.stokely AT gmail.com by Thursday 22 May. Feel free to contact me with any question you might have too.
Oh and by the way – guys who are interested in coming along are welcome to do so if they have a female geek to escort them. πŸ™‚
The group’s blog is here, and if you’re on Facebook, join the group! πŸ™‚

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Vote with your dollars

I’m going over my notes from LCA 2008 as I write a feature on open source for MIS magazine, and this quote from Dirk Hohndel, Intel’s chief technologist for open source, still stands out to me:

“Next time you buy hardware, think very hard about a way that you can signal to the vendor that you don’t want Windows. The message gets passed on as soon as its loud enough.”

He was talking about desktop computers, but of course it’s equally applicable to servers and other hardware.

Bravo to the vendors who do offer alternative operating systems on their desktop PCs and laptops – including Dell, HP (later this year) and ASUS.

If you think this post is just a way for me to justify buying an Eee PC, shame on you. πŸ™‚

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The Penguin's Big Day Out: LCA writeup in Linux Magazine

My writeup of Linux.conf.au (LCA) 2008 has appeared in the international Linux Magazine. I googled and found it for your reading pleasure – you’ll need to open it in PDF format, but it’s a fun little read (if I do say so myself). The guys at Linux Mag did promise to send me a copy, but I haven’t received it as yet – the only reason I knew my story was out was through bumping into Paul Fenwick (of Perl Training Australia) at the launch of the Waugh Partner’s Australian Open Source Community and Industry Report the other week. So thanks, Paul!

Penguin’s Big Day Out [Linux Magazine]

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Kate Lundy – Open Source could be the big gamechanger for government

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend Senator Kate Lundy’s pre-2020 Summit event, the Foundations of Open, last week. I was the only media representative there, and it was a fascinating event.

The day covered a range of topics about open source tech and its potential for the government and community/not-for-profit sectors, as well as open standards and open access to information. I couldn’t possibly hope to cover everything that was discussed but I hope to tease out a few more stories from the event over the coming weeks. Here’s the first story, anyway. It was published at ITNews:

Open Source the biggest potential game changer for government: Lundy

Senator Lundy asked all participants to create submissions to be taken to the PM’s 2020 Summit which is happening at the end of this month. It would be great to see more systemic use of open source tech – and particularly its ethos of sharing information and tech solutions – across government.

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Pia Waugh on Volunteering in Open Source and IT

Another interesting event coming up is an event being hosted by the ACS which will feature Waugh Partners consultant Pia Waugh talking about her involvement in volunteering in IT and the Open Source community and how it’s helped her achieve as a business person.

Pia’s talk will cover her experience with Open Source, One Laptop per Child, technology in developing nations, encouraging girls (and Generation Y across the board) to get into IT, and the experience of starting her own IT business in Australia.

The event is being held on Monday 28 April from 12pm – 2pm. It costs $20 (free for ACS members) which includes light lunch and refreshments included. It’s being held at The Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney.

For further details or to register go to www.acs.org.au/nsw/events.

ICT volunteerism: driving career and personal advancement!

ACS-Women – Level 1 280 Pitt Street, Sydney – Monday 28/4/08 – 12pm –
2pm – Light lunch and refreshments. Go to www.acs.org.au/nsw/events to
register.

Pia is a technical woman working with Linux and Open Source. She has a
global reputation and has spoken all around the world on topics ranging
from women in ICT, Open Source business benefits and opportunities, the
digital divide and more.

She always wanted to somehow apply herself to making the world a better
place and at one point was going to leave the industry in order to do
this in the traditional sense by going to a third world country to feed
the poor. She she quickly realised, however, that the best way she
could benefit the world was by using the skills she already had and
apply them in new ways to help others.

In her experience, volunteerism has brought so many opportunities
including career, travel, personal satisfaction and she believes her
participation in communities such as the Open Source community has got
her to where she is today.

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Kate Lundy to host "Foundations of Open" event this week

I spoke with Senator Kate Lundy this morning ahead of the “Foundations of Open” event which she is hosting in Canberra on Thursday. In the leadup to the national 2020 summit, Senators and Members were encouraged to host their own local summits – and Senator Lundy elected to focus on Open Source technology. I was intrigued and asked her why.

“I had a look at all the big public policy issues that I think have the most capability to change the way we do things for the better, and Open Source was the standout for me. I’m involved in a lot of different policy areas ranging from sport and health promotion, right through to things relating to IT, but this one has the greatest potential because it’s a different way of solving problems, and it’s a way that I think can help organisations capitalise on corporate knowledge and share that knowledge”

The program for the event is online here. The day will look not only how Open Source technology is being used in government and private sector, but also at open standards and free access to information.

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Google seeks open source mentors for Summer of Code

Google’s gearing up for its High School student open source project Summer of Code, and they’re seeking organisations to act as mentors, or hosts, for the students who are participating. Basically it’s a chance for open source projects to open up their doors to some new, young enthusiasts, many of whom will be working on open source projects for the first time.

The deadline for organisations to apply is SOON – March 12 – so if you’re interested in helping some bright young people help *your* project, then check it out. πŸ™‚

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GHOP winners announced – but where are the girls?

Google’s Highly Open Participation competition for pre-university students is a great thing – it’s encouraging them to get into tech, and specifically to get into open source tech. They deliberately designed it to allow many, many different ways of contributing, not just hard coding. It was set up to encourage the competitors to actively communicate and participate with the open source communities on the projects they were working on – in the hopes that they’d stay on as contributors to those projects once the competition ended. For all these reasons it’s a great scheme.

But I was so disappointed to see yesterday, when the 10 grand prize winners were announced, that there was not one girl amongst them. This is difficult to express because I don’t at all want to detract from the boys who won.

I bet that Google is as disappointed about this as I am – they are aware that creating diverse computing projects capable of catering to an entire planet of users needs a diverse community behind it. And if we wish to attract the best and brightest to computing, we need to figure out why we’re attracting so few women.

I suspect and hope that Google will be looking at the GHOP competition and program mechanics, the community projects they worked with, and the way GHOP was promoted to see if they can spot any reasons why girls were under-represented in the top 10. Perhaps, too, they’ll release the full stats on participation and we’ll find that there was a sizable representation of girls, but that the 10 best contributors happened to be the boys who won. This at least would indicate that the program is getting girls involved.

In the meantime, I’ve ordered a copy of She’s Such a Geek,Β  to remind myself that women are everywhere in tech. And I hope that next year we’ll see a few happy geek girls on the Googleplex tour after winning GHOP.

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