Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Part Two: Open Source at the IEEE Games Innovation Conference in Hong Kong

Two presentations today covered additional games education and research efforts using FOSS tools.

The first, and one that has really taken off over the past 18 months or so, is the Mario AI competition. The goal is to program variations of ai agents, or bots, to do the best job of playing a game variation based on "Infinite Mario Bros" tribute by Markus Persson. That Java created game variant already had an endless random level generation function built in. This current year's contest has involved several different conferences and several different programming challenges including game play, learning, level generation challenges. An additional Turing test challenge will be run at the Aisa Game Show on Monday the 27th.Sergey Karakovskiy and the other organizers are planning for next year's challenge. So visit their page and get cracking!

Flexible Rules showcases a ser of tools aimed at creating computer-based board and card games that will allow for players to create digital games that can be as flexible as analog games. For example, you may play Monopoly with certain rules that your family has created to make the gameplay faster or "more fun". For example, the "free parking" space on the Monopoly board, according to the official rules, is just that, a consequence free space for the players to take a deep breath. Yet many use a "House Rule" in which fines levied accumulate and are given to the player who lands on the space. Digital games dont allow for the flexibility in game play that analog ones do. The website offers a set of java tools to create more flexible games.

This has been the second GIC conference with a third already being planned for. The organizers and I have been discussing a possible game jam as part of the next conference where the student teams would use open source technologies exclusively to build a game in 48 hours.
It'll take a couple of months to figure it out, nut if there's positive movement forward I'll be spreading the word and looking for your help to do the same.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Open Source at the IEEE Games Innovation Conference in Hong Kong

By the power of the POSSE alumni fund I had the pleasure to present a paper on the RIT efforts at this conference yesterday. The paper discussed the history of our efforts and, most importantly, the way in which HFOSS service education efforts have motivated our students to continue the if FOSS experiences and participation beyond the classroom and oaths and years after they've taken the course. Now that the paper has been officially presented it will be posted on FOSS@RIT in January when I return from my travels.

The paper was well received with questions about the course curriculum, FOSS and general and on the XO.

Another interesting project built on FOSS tech was an education effort for engineering education. Engineering Island used Moodle, SLoodle and Second Life to build a 3D world in which students race their avatars around a course under a timed challenge to calculate resistance and voltage balance. In an interesting real world portion of the exercise, the world is connected to a real world power supply and banks of resistors, rather than hard-coding the values. This teaches the students that the real world components "drift" and don't always work the way the "should". The developers have ported the world out of Second Life to work on Open Sim tech, so it's a fully open project now.

You can see more by surfing over to looking for the education Island info.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Teaching Open Source Session at FIE Notes

Heidi Ellis provided overview of why to use FOSS

Mathew Burke from GWU says GWU has an adjunct led course in FOSS 8-10 students per session, but argues to spread it across the curriculum. Audience member argues for the single course approach for depth.  Burke replies that in the case for Ethics students think they are "done" with Ethics after the course.  Burke says perhaps the ethics angle is tangential and in the case of FOSS the issues can be integral across the computing disciplines.  Topics like rights, developer communication, across courses, can look at history, etc.  There are lots of places it can be fitted in without having to devote resources to a specific course.  Look at unit testing, support tools, shared editing and can add those tools to classes that do software dev.
Low hanging fruit is submitting homework using version control systems.  Benefits are...
1. they should be using version control and refusing to grade it unless its in there motivates them
2. indicates how willing students are to dive in to something new

Audience member adds in its a good block to plagiarism, but why does it have to be FOSS
Matt says because That's what the panel is about.

3.  Also useful to develop distributed work and development skills.
4. Opportunity to get students involved extracurricularly.  Cites GSOC as a good way to put classroom knowledge into practice and networking with other developers.

How do you decide what to deal with?  two categories...

A. Students look at code but don't join dev communities.  Look at actual, working code in DBs, large scale projects, etc.  Spinella says we don't expect people to learn how to write without teaching them to read, we should do the same with code.

B. Get them involved in a project and have them get involved in large scale development, what its like to work with large groups all over the world working on the same project

Heidi on her involvement in FOSS

Had a student leave the country and get involved in Sahana.  The former student encouraged them to get involved.  Found two students on independent study and got involved in Sahana to find out what the barriers might be and whether it would work for students.  The two students were successful and they had three more students get involved over the summer. By the send of the summer they were able to demo a volunteer management module for Sahana they built actively participating in disaster management sessions.

So FOSS began getting integrated into the class with successful students as mentors.  Have added Open MRS, medical records system, Ronald Macdonald House Volunteer scheduling, Hartford Public Library and Gnome Caribou Onscreen desktop better. HFOSS projects want student involvement.

Grading can be an issue.  Since's there's no guarantee of a "finished project" must grade on student working on process.

Cliff discusses projects and communities.  Size of teams can vary from 2-3 people to hundreds.  Second is how centralized the project is.  Some academic FOSS projects or commercial FOSS projects have on major team doing most of the work with some fringe external developers. Others are fully distributed.

FreeMind is an example of the first, Drupal the second.

FOSS 90% silent users and passive observers
9% do bug reports and feature requests
.9% test and patch
.09% developers
.009% core developers

I try to bring students through this model

1st they are users
2nd they study how the FOSS SW works
3rd Add minor enhancements
4th build significant components
5th Leverage to solve other problems

So like Matt said they learn to read before they write.  Then they make minor improvements

Greg Hilsop  Instructor Perspective

This is not a trivial undertaking for an instructor to get into it but its really rewarding.  If you like to run project courses this stuff can be a gold mine. Some cost of Entry but really high reward.  You gotta gear yourself up.  Not a lot of faculty to work with.  You need to take time to learn the culture and how it works.

Some undependability with people joining and leaving projects, etc so you give up some control
Some sources for instructors. for community of peers and practice
POSSE, boot camp for Profs FOSS Learning Center
softhum is a spin-off of fosslc

There are needs beyond core code.  Documentation testing, graphics, usability, etc.
Stop thinking about code and start thinking about community.

Mel Chua
Hands out slides on paper

Much of academia is about getting together face to face and one problem is difficult to figure out the structures and networks and community.

Open source is also about community.  What are the differences?

Academic communities very structured and formal, well defined procedures and hierarchies.
Open Source communities are the opposite  Do you know how to get somewhere or do you know where you want to get

OS communities are terrible at scaffolding.

Sebastian talks about Matt Jaduad immersing students in Open Source.  People in Open Source communities are always looking for help.  Students are attractive as they're likely to be consistent members for at least the time of their classes.

Mel says students and professors don't have to be skilled but they have to be willing to learn.  FOSS communities also like students because they know there'll be profs or other sources of support on-site beyond the distributed dev community.  IF you're in school you have a process, but you may not know what the product will be.  In FOSS you have a product but you don't know what the process will be.

Academics expect all the pieces for support within FOSS projects that are supposed to be there should be there.  FOSS communities know that it's likely big pieces of those documents are missing.

FOSS does provide the opportunity for an apprenticeship style of learning and growth.

Q and A time

Audience: Something that didn't get covered was IP, I don't tell them about Open Source.

Heidi says yes it's an issue.  Some people ignore it, some people say it's licensed
Stephen Jacobs says it's a mix. Students own their homework
Audience member says Since his university says students own their thesis, so he says they should own their homework.
Greg says his institution agrees with RIT
Audience member says European Universities are different
Mel says the Humanitarian issue is also useful for HFOSS projects as a block to university IP issues.
Heidi says the issue is lurking.  Involving students in Open Source is evolving
Audience member says at the HFOSS symposium some Universities are officially creating policies to address this.  It's a slow process and must involve faculty senate and other groups. Faculty have to be determined to make the change.
Audience member says may be different at state universities as the IP may be owned by the state.  For people in those situations they might want to work with their university technology offices before the class is offered
audience member says don't ask, don't tell

New comment.  There's a lot of overhead in doing things across the curriculum.  Getting faculty up to speed, getting students into the culture of the specific project, especially if its peripheral
Greg  Depends on the students. I do FOSS field trips.  I ask DO you use Mozilla, etc?  They say yes, but they don't know how those products emerge.  So I'll give them a list of projects and observe how the dev communities work.  Lots of ways to show them
Mel says there's the overhead of getting faculty involved, POSSE can help with that.  That helps with the first one.  With the second one Red Hat's release cycle is 6 months so we're good at getting people up to speed rapidly.
Greg says it's kinda like looking your second and third programming language.  You can also scaffold things.  If you pick a task and being the interface in-between they don't have to get deeply immersed
Heidi says we're adding keyboards to an open source application.  Its in python, we don't know python, but the keyboards are in XML and we know XML.
Matt says I do a lot of consulting as a software developer and you need to develop the skills to start working quickly in something you've never seen.  You don't want to set students up to fail all the time but some of these barriers are not only a downside.
Greg agrees and says picking your projects carefully is important
Mel says watching a prof get lost in the beginning of a project with you is also instructive.

How variant are the methods of working with the communities.  Do most of them use the same basics? Do you have communities you'd recommend that folks get started in?

Clif.  No ones done an ethnographic study but I like getting them involved in things like the content management systems where they can get involved with modules and projects
heidi.  I have them look at the communications first and and find the list serve, meetings, etc.
 Plugs TOS Textbook.  It's evolving but has small projects around many of these issues.
 Matt points to Mel's post on Teaching Open Source in going through a community and she went through it.
Greg points to the FOSS Field Trip concept.

Audience member is trying to survey FOSS Managers.  If you'd like to cooperate with me on that survey please get in touch.  I have a Jan 1 Deadline.  Would also like to cooperate on software for managing open source projects in classes

Audience Member  I came in late, how is this being used in curriculum

Greg and Heidi, Freshmen to grad, capstone projects, independent studies,  full courses, courses across the curriculum etc.

Textbook link on teaching open source is shown.  Downloadable as a pdf. It's open content on a wiki and run as an open content project.

Mel shows blog posts from POSSE SA  This is the documentation of the thought process in analyzing sakau

Sebastian shows POSSE web site and explains what POSSE is.

Session Breaks

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More wikiotics, Girl Scouts, Pace University visit

All kindsa stuff going on!  Due to the previous press release on our students working on Wikiotics, we got a request to demo the project at the opening of Taylor and Nate got to show off Wikiotics at the grand opening of the Constellation Commons for Global Learning at RIT this Friday, October 23rd.  Taylor and Nate did us all proud showing the tech off at this event.

Saturday was the third time we did the day-long "Games for Life" interest program workshop for the Girl Scouts, the same one we did at SIGGRAPH this past August.   We'll be doing another this spring and after that I think the bugs will be worked out enough to distribute as open content, assuming the Girl Scouts agree.

Today, 10/27, the recently minted DR Gerald Ardito brought me out to Pace University to talk to folks from the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems (Dr. Constance Knapp, Interim Dean,    Dr. David Sachs, Associate Dean ) and the School of Education (Dr. Andrea (Penny) Spencer, Dean and Dr. Sandra Flank, Professor ) to discuss FOSS@RIT, our game degree program the HFOSS course in which we do our OLPC/Sugar work and other things besides.

What an excellent group of folks!  Lots of synergy, lots of excitement and a whole list of brainstormed opportunities to collaborate on summer workshops, courses and more.  It's clear we'll be getting back in touch soon to see what we can do together.

More traveling tomorrow, as I head off to Washington DC for the Frontiers in Education conference with some of the other TOS folks. Looking forward to meeting them face-to-face.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Next Week, Pace University and FIE!

Looking forward to next week's road trip.  Heading out on Wednesday to meet Pace University's David Sachs , the Associate Dean of the CS school there and recently minted PhD Gerald Ardito to talk about what's been going on at RIT and how we might help them get something similar started out there.  After spending a few hours at Pace, Gerald and I will hop in his wheels and head down to see the Croton XO program.

Then I'll crash in NYC and head out to IEEE Frontiers in Education the following am for the TOS panel, "TEACHING STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE PROJECTS, starring Heidi J. C. Ellis, Gregory W. Hislop, Mel Chua, Clif Kussmaul and Matthew M. Burke

and my little work-in-progress two pager,
Which is part of the larger session, "Service-Learning Models, Motivations, and Outcomes"
Then, since I'll be in DC I'll be catching up with my old chums, hitting the "Rally to Restore Sanity" and Trick-or-Treating with the four-year-old nephew and two-year-old niece.  Absolutely the best part of the trip :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

FOSS@RIT work with Wikiotics

A repost, as this seems to have broken in some of the planets.

 RIT Initiative Strives to Create Free and Open Source Software

FOSS@RIT initiative aims to connect students with humanitarian-related projects

Monday, October 18, 2010

We Made It Into the First Round of the Unity Competition!

For those of you not in education and games, Unity is a high-end software package for creating3D and 2D games.  For those of you into Open Source, while Unity is not an Open Source platform, it is developing a "publish to Android" version.  The tool is also one of those that has a version that is free to use with some limits to functionality. more details on the software overall can be found at the Unity 3d site and on the various versions under their license page.

They are running a contest to encourage schools to start teaching development of mobile games and apps. Schools had to submit a proposal for a course they would develop using the tool.  Twenty schools that win the first round (including us) get a full version of the software and an ANdroid phone to use to develop sample courseware.  Those 20 schools submit their samples in roughly two months after they receive the package.  Three of the 20 will win 20 copies of the full version and 20 phones to complete development of and offer the course.

Am quite psyched.  A nice finish to the day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Busy Week at RIT, Red Hat, Pythonistas, Hong Kong, Wikiotics, Righteous Pictures and a Bear

The joint was jumping last week, no question about it.  First, Mel Chua dropped in to town to close a couple of loops and open new ones.  The RIT paperwork for setting up the next POSSE, was completed.

The current penciled-in plan is to set it for June 20-24 and have Chris Tyler and Dave Shein teach it.  Should be a blast. Our information session on RIT's campus drew about 12 interested faculty and staff from CS, Networking, Telecom, Computer and Electircal Engineering, Liberal Arts, the Library, and several related departments from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.  Another 12 sent their regrets due to time conflicts but asked to be notified when registration opens, so we should have a good pool again.

FOSSCon has their "Save The Date" on-line for June 25th, to follow POSSE in Rochester again.  Mel and I did some brainstorming around another event for college student FOSS contributors at RIT to overlap both POSSE and FOSSCon. This one's to early stage to even be penciled-in yet, it's barely on the white board :-)  There's likely be more about this if it looks like we can move forward and we'll be looking for input on it.

Mel and I also did some scheduling around the Teaching Open Source efforts for the
IEEE's Frontiers in Education Conference coming up in just 10 days.  There a Teaching Open Source panel on Friday at 10 am starring Heidi J. C. Ellis, Gregory W. Hislop, Mel, Clif Kussmaul and Matthew M. Burke.  I'll be heckling from the audience.  I've got a "Work-in_Progress" paper (short and communicating experience vs. research) on the RIT efforts  in a session on "Service-Learning Models, Motivations, and Outcomes" at 4:00 on Friday.  We'll all be getting together, ideally with other kindred spirits, for dinner the night before and perhaps for more eating and greeting at lunch or dinner on Friday as well.

While Mel was on campus, I got the news that my paper on the student's OLPC game development efforts had been accepted for the IEEE Games Innovation Conference in December and I have the Teaching Open Source POSSE Alumni fund to thank for funding the travel to Hong Kong to deliver the paper.  One of our graduate students, Emma Liao, was planning to return home to China for Christmas break so she will be accompanying me to GIC and the Asia Games Show to help me dridge linguistic difficulties that may arise.  Thanks to Liz Lawley's Lab for Social Computing for covering Emma's registration costs.

The RIT class had their second presentation meeting to the Rochester Pythonistas.  It is reported a good time was had by all, but I had to miss it :-(  Our students Nate and Taylor got a shout out from Wikiotics on the work they are doing and RIT should have a related press release out this week as well.

If that's not enough, we had a great visit from the Michaels at Righteous Pictures,  who did a  presentation in the Center for Student Innovation on their films and making documentaries in the digital age.  Their currently-in-post-production film, "Web" focuses on two related stories.  One is on the impact of the Internet on human community, thought and behavior, and the second is on OLPC deployments in Peru and their impact on the kids and the villages who get them.

We're so happening that even the wildlife want in on the event.  This bear was looking to join us in the FOSSBox but got lost on campus and never got to us.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Google Code Contest for Middle and High School students

Looks like great fun.  Hope to get some students involved locally. Could do some stuff around OLPC and Sugar.   Might be able to have them work on Math 4 projects RIT has started.  Will need to check into it more.

Google Code-In

Friday, September 24, 2010

Obama game challenge, OLPC/Sugar and other platforms

Just a quick cell phone update from the airport on the way to Maker Faire. I sent a note to the organizers asking for clarification on reaching underserved populations etc and here's what came back. Short answer is olpc/Sugar is definitely acceptable

The ability to reaching underserved communities is a focus of this prize and part of the judging criteria.  How to do that is part of the Call to Action on the part of the applicants.  We're looking for innovation in how to reach the underserved, as so many previous attempts have failed.  We are not going to limit the specs, devices, etc.  OLPC would be great if you're able to make a fun, educational game.  If you create something for the iPhone, you should explain how your project can still reach underserved populations (maybe it is also available on another device?).

Friday, September 17, 2010

STEM Game Competition, OLPC and Android

This, naturally caught my eye...

Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media to Award 
Youth and Developers Prizes for Creating STEM Based Video Games

Even better, there are two categories, one for middle schoolers (grades 5-8) and one for college students and adults.

Even Mo Better!!!!!!

"Special emphasis will be placed on technologies that have high potential to reach underserved communities, such as games built  for basic mobile phones that address urgent educational needs among at- risk youth."

While this mentions phones specifically I'd bet that OLPC could qualify as well, especially since AMD sponsors ths contest and was an original sponsor of OLPC

Full information below...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer Recap, New Course Pointers for the Fall, New Open Content Project on Game Mechanics

1.  Summer Recap
It was a busy summer, most of which was detailed in these Center for Student Innovation and FOSS@RIT posts by the student teams and their coordinator.  One of the many cool things about the Symposium was the number of projects using Python and other Open Source Technologies.  We'll be reaching out to those students and faculty to bring them into the FOSS Box during the upcoming academic year.

Undergraduate Research and Innovation Symposium was huge! 

We worked on several FOSS projects during our visit to Boston

FOSS@RIT returns to OLPC HQ 

and FOSS@RIT was a clear leader in Open SOurce and Government Transparency on the Senate floor this summer too. 

2.  The New FOSS@RIT page on Teaching Open Source 

It briefly covers history and current status of course and other FOSS educational efforts since we began
There is, of course, a direct link to the new syllabus on Teaching Open Source too.  

Some new assignments in it include a community architecture assignment, extra credit for involvement in, and blogging about, Software Freedom Day and blogging or presenting at Bar Camp Rochester on top of regular blogs, wiki posts, etc.

Looking forward to  comments and feedback on the new Wiki content.

3. Open Content Game Mechanics Database Project

This will emerge from a seminar in Gameplay I'll be teaching at RIT this fall.  The design and implementation of the DB will be done by my research collaborators Dr. Erik Vick of RIT and Thomas McDaniel of UCF with me shouting from the peanut gallery. The students will be supplying some content and acting as initial consumers to force iteration in the design.
 There are numerous static lists and a few community wiki resources in this area already.  The downside to them is that they are not structures to serve as underlying tech for larger projects and/or they are somewhat idiosyncratic.
We want ours to be a bit more flexible and to support the work we began in our paper "Using semiotic grammars for the rapid design of evolving video game mechanics"  Its one of two Vick, McDaniel and myself have written  on Semiotics and Game Design over the past 18 months.  They were both  accepted at the Games Papers sessions on SIGGRAPH 2009 and 2010.

We'll likely run it through a few versions between now and Thanksgiving during the run of the course, then open it up to a larger test group and finally the community as a whole to beat up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

CIVX Beta Lines up advisors and opportunities!

Representing government interests, we have the NYS Senate’s CIO, Andrew Hoppin.  Representing regional and local journalism interests, we have WXXI’s Editor for their  new Local Journalism Center on technology and innovation, Rachel Ward and City Paper’s Editor-in-Chief, Mary Anna Towler.  From the technology sphere we have Tom Callaway, Fedora’s engineering manager.  

The board is already engaging with us in significant ways.  Red Hat/Fedora has given us critical development support and previously donated a server and software to the project.  WXXI has asked the LTL to offer training in CIVX as part of a weeklong workshop they will be hosting for members of NPR’s new Local Journalism Centers across the state.  The New York State Senate has asked us to participate in a Hackathon on August 19th and then participate and present in their daylong technology and government conference CapitolCamp on August 20th.

The full RIT press release has some more info.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Microsoft Humanitarian Competition. Let's build an HFOSS version!

Scientific American has an informative piece on Microsoft's Imagine Cup finals.  It would be great to see a movement toward doing something similar with HFOSS.  Whaddaya say people?

Boston was a Blast!

Wednesday, while the team was driving down, I was touring the Museum of Science and catching up with former student Keith Simmons who's been Technology Manager for the Intel Computer Clubhouse there for about 2 1/2 years.Keith has been rooming with a crew of hacker/maker types, is getting into fabbing and has fantasies about getting a laser cutter :-).  He's involved with a new cool space called Artisan's Asylum and was excited to hear about Interlock up here in Rochester.

Much of Thursday was spent happily hacking at OLPC headquarters.  Much progress was made on OVC, the Python Engine projects and on CIVX.  Check out the OLPC Hackfest photos from Qian.  Some of the crew peeled off for the OLPC Soccer Game at 4:30.  Others joined me for the GAMBIT focus testing fest at their offices just two buildings down from OLPC. If you're in Boston and missed the one this week, there'll be another July 22nd.  Same directions and times apply I believe. We had a great time testing games and Keith was able to join us for that and for Remy's Birthday dinner afterwards.

Friday 10-2:30 was spent with the Gambit crowd.  From 10-11 Philip Tan and I talked about ways in which our two programs could collaborate and I left with a good list of items to pursue in the next few weeks. Then, after catching up on some e-mail, I joined Philip and some of the GAMBIT faculty and students for lunch.  A good crowd of folks and I had a great time.  They may take a road trip up to visit us and ICHEG sometime in the fall.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Looking forward to Boston this Week

Will be winging my way to Boston Weds-Friday for a multi-faceted trip.  Hitting the Boston Science Museum and their Intel Computer Clubhouse Wednesday to catch up with former Rochester Digital Ripple collaborator Keith Simmons.  Then an OLPC visit for a new hackfest with the RIT OVC, Game and Animation engine teams.  Then, to feed the the games side of life off to MIT for Gambit Thursday night and Friday am and then home.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Field Trip Day for the OLPC devs

I got into all this OLPC, Sugar, HFOSS stuff because I'm a game professor at RIT and I wanted my students to make educational games for the platform.  So yesterday I spent a day introducing the various OLPC dev teams (almost all of whom are doing something related to Sugar games) to two great resources in the field that we're lucky to have in town; the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) at the Strong National Museum of Play and Second Avenue Software.

ICHEG has a collection of over 10,000 items related to electronic games and is continuing to build that research archive and design a 5,000 square foot exhibit on them slated to open November 20th.  It's been my pleasure to consult with them on those efforts, first as a member of their comprehensive advisory board and now as a visiting scholar there for the next two years.  The students were awe-struck by the museum in general and particularly their holdings of everything from a working replica of Ralph Baer's brown box, over 150 arcade games (many of which were part of Videotopia, which they acquired) and walls of shelves of software 3 boxes deep.  Thanks to JP for touring us around!

After a quick lunch in the museum food court we headed out to Second Avenue software, where we had an informal and deeply informative presentation from Tory and Mike on their process and will be applying what we learned to our current and future development efforts.  Thanks to them both as well

Tech Symposium, results of Boing Boing? and More

After an action packed week of POSSE and FOSSCon, there was no slowing down this week. M-W was the NTID Tech Symposium where we delivered our paper on Open Video Chat. We also had a table for the length of the conference where we showed it off. Boing Boing picked up our Center for Student Innovation blog post on the RIT press release and ) several interesting things happened as a result (I assume) of the Boing Boing link...

Tony Anderson sent me an e-mail asking for some class projects in the fall including a typing game, a bingo vocab game, support for karma development and some work on Fez and Drupal. These all look like great initiatives and I'll be looking at the students enrolled in the Fall to see if we might be able to match some of them up.

Gerald Ardito, who I met when we presented at NYSCATE together last year, runs an OLPC deployment in a private school downstate, and has made it the focus of his PhD at Pace University. He asked if I'd be willing to come down to Pace and talk with folks there about what we're doing in Rochester, with the hopes of maybe helping them do something similar there. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to do so.

Kolawole Oreoluwa got in touch to ask about testing OVC for us in Nigeria. He'll be working with Adam to obtain some 1.5 for that very purpose and I look forward to hearing more about his program in general, in addition to finding out about his experiences with OVC.

Discussions in-channel with Collabora, the OVC dev team and members of the community during the symposium are leading up to a hackfest to attack problems with RTP, Gstreamer and Theora, to get the team up to speed with Telepathy-Farsight and to build some documentation for it that's currently lacking. We're shooting for a fest at OLPC headquarters the week of 7/12 and will be posting details once they firm up.

Last but not least we got to meet Kevin Cole of Gallaudet, who manned a table for OLPC and Sugar Labs at the event.

Many thanks to the FOSS@RIT dev team for all their great work and all the folks who got in touch with us this week!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Open Video Chat Paper at NTID Technology Conference

This will be its official debut to the Deaf Access Technology World.  For all the details, head over to the Center for Student Innovation Site.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Yesterday was FOSSCon, the day-long FOSS conference hosted by RIT. The event content covered a nice spread of education, business and other applications of FOSS technology and community. I enjoyed the keynote by Basekamp an arts space interested in open content and hacker culture as well as fine arts. Hope to do a presentation for them either on what the museum is doing and/or art games in October.

After that I spent some time in the exhibits room with the attendess at large, participated in the POSSE panel and saw a few of the lightning talks before I got a call from home and had to split.

The crowd was smaller than the organizers had initially hoped, and not without some "first-time organizer"bumps in the road. That said the community was great and they had folks come from a radius of 350 or so, from Pennsylvania to Toronto and around. I'm looking forward to planning for next year's and building on the base that was laid this Saturday.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

POSSE Summation


As you'll see at the Pirate Pad link below, POSSE was a success. We got profs engaged and excited, made some headway on the Sugar Measure Activity, some Sugar On A Stick issues and made some prototype RIT Fedora Remixes.

Check it out!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Run three sessions of a seminar in FOSS Development for the OLPC. Roughly 50 students have taken the elective which has created 9 projects for Sugar Labs’s Math 4 initiative and generated seven unpaid co-ops and to extend those projects

Created FOSS@RIT, an umbrella for a wide variety of FOSS activities, including which has received some support for development this summer from RIT

Housed a funded applied research project in the development of an Open Video Chat (OVC) project that targets Deaf users but can be used by all. The initial development began as a Sugar activity, summer goals for the project include Linux, PC and Mac versions as well.

Brought Richard Stallman and Walter Bender to campus

Mounted a successful effort to host a POSSE and FOSSCon in June.

Participated in panels at the Teaching Open Source Summit and the HFOSS Symposium
Presented at NYSCATE 2010 and Bar Camps and Unconferences in Rochester, Boston and New York RIT’s 2009 and 2010 Imagine Festival.

Had a paper accepted at the Deaf Education Technology Symposium for presentation 6/2010 and has a final draft of a paper waiting official acceptance at Frontiers in Education 2010. If accepted, presentation will be 10/2010

Converted the OLPC seminar into a formal course “Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software Development; the goals of which meet the current draft HFOSS certificate requirements. That course will be offered in fall 2010.

Begun working with a team looking to turn the XO and Android phones into portable EKG and other medical sensing devices for use as primary equipment in the third world (X0) and supplemental emergency equipment in the first world (Android)

Begun building a relationship with the Righteous Pictures production team of “Web” an documentary in production that features the XO with the intent of having RIT students participate in the post-production of the film and the creation of digital widgets that promote the film, its message


For POSSE proper yesterday, not much to say as I was in and out for most of the classroom time.  Various errands including providing folks XO's dealing with paper work for POSSE, FOSSCon, the research undergrads etc prevented me from participating much in the creation of the spin, but I'll benefit from the efforts of my colleagues.

Today, it was really all about the meals.

We had a group lunch with the POSSE folks and the FOSS Box team.(Boneless wings for 23) and introduced the professors and staff to the students working on the FOSS projects and Jon Schull in his current role as interim director of the Innovation Center, which I think was good for all around.

Last night was the POSSE dinner, where Chris Tyler and I spent some time figuring angles to get RIT Co-Ops to work on CDOT projects.  The challenge is getting the border issues dealt with (if a us student is doing a co-op for a Canadian college while residing in the us and not actually getting any money because its a not for profit does anyone hear the tree fall in the forest?)  or do we do it via a US not-for-profit say Sugar or, as I thought about it this am, CIVX?

Also had a good chat with Chas of the LUG, Pythonistas and etc about my grandiose ideas around Pi Day, which could include a Pi-thon hackfest for math4 around Pi related stuff.

I've also been thinking about tweaks to the course, and adding a second one, that I'll discuss later today and kick around with Dave Shein in July.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Spent the AM talking about "roses and thorns,"  ie high points and low points of the experience so far.  Reiterated some of last night's blog posts comments, to which Mel and Chris were graciously supportive of.  We took a long look at things like Bugzilla, Trac, Fedora Hosted and others tools and Mel walked us through her process for picking up a new project; ie evaluating a dev community as viable or non-viable before jumping in.  This was extremely useful as were the other discussions.

At 11:00 we took a break to be interviewed by Andrea's Journalism students, which was fun.  I then shot down to the Center for Student Innovation to help run the Tuesday lunch event and then shot back upstairs asap to rejoin POSSE.

I joined the RIT_Remix_Project project and we spent the afternoon building a list of packages to include. This is a start for a general assemblage for the institute overall and could spawn some College specific variants over time.

Homework tonight is to keep tweaking this and perhaps start the lists for the variants. For my contribution to the effort I've created a new page RIT_Remix_Project/College_Specific. My colleagues are planning to evaluate more packages for the RIT Remix and  College Specific Remix

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


My Brain Hurts!

My biggest challenge with Open Source, and perhaps the POSSE curriculum, is the sheer number of accounts, sites, tools, etc  I find it bewildering to stay on top of it all, though spending tomorrow running everything out of the Fedora Spin in virtual box will likely help to reduce the confusion.  I'd also probably have done better to pursue POSSE at another institution rather than my own this particular summer.  Having five FOSS projects running with something like 14 team members (some in the same room as POSSE and some just down the hall)  adds another level of distraction that the other RIT Profs don't have :-)

I'm feeling like a diagram/visualization of all the different pieces and how they inter-relate and or map to pipeline would help.  Here's a list anyway...

  • Blog:  Personal Dev Notes and thoughts syndicated for others via planets.
    • Sugar Planet
    • Teaching Open Source Planet
  • Wikis
    • Teaching Open Source
    • Sugar
    • Fedora 
  • IRC
    • #TeachingOpenSource
    • #Sugar
    • #Fedora? 
  • Fedora
  • Sugar
  • Teaching Open Source
  • Management?
  • Bug Tracking and Reporting?
  • Version Control
    • GIT 
    • Patch (Unix Command?)
  • Publican (xml goes in, different docs come out, fedora developed tool?)
 One thing that would/would have helped me would be to narrow the nozzle on the fire hose to start out.  By that I mean start with one full set to begin with and add on a daily basis.  start with TOS for communications, accounts, blogs, planets, irc s much as possible.  Then add in sugar, have me download source for a doc (or something else) and make a patch to it there.  Have me play with some activities and report bugs, request features or tweak the source there.  Then move me up to fedora, etc.

Productively lost in one place = good, productively lost in three = not so productive.  Scaffold and/or offer structure across one community and tool set, let me get comfortable there and then have me translate to the next.

Ok, so I'm a big whiner.  :-)

So I'll shoot for the spin project tomorrow

In the meantime I think I tracked down the last Planet issue. Was listed in contributors but none showing up at the top level of TOS as individual entries.  Tag issue :-( Attempted to create two tags in blogger (FOSS and POSSE) but it took them as a single tag (FOSS POSSE)  killed that one and just stuck with FOSS.   Should work now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

POSSE Day 1 #2

Too many accounts for too many systems from too many organizations. Makes my head hurt.


Getting going in POSSE required a blog and since all my old ones have been dead for a while, time to start a new one.

My Teaching Open Source User page has stuff on me, so check it out...