Sunday, December 11, 2011

First Two Weeks of the Quarter Shout Out!

Since I started sabbatical in July things have been intermittent at best, something I hope to remedy for a New Year's resolution.  That said, two quick mentions...

1.  First a tip of the hat to Ralph J. Bean, who's teaching the new "Project in FOSS Development" course at  RIT this quarter with Open Source Games in the Cloud and hosting on Open Shift as the focus.  RJ and I developed the course last quarter and after sitting in the back for two weeks I can assert that he's doing a great job so far in his first college teaching gig.

2.  Also a salute to Mel Chua as she announces her inevitable (due to her choice to pursue a PhD) departure from Red Hat.  Mel was one of our first big supporters at FOSS@RIT, (along with Karlie Robinson and Fred Gross) and I had the pleasure of working with her at POSSE and conferences since.

Keep your eyes on both their spaces, they are doing great stuff!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The (STEM) Game's Afoot

The Second Annual National Stem Video Game Challenge opened yesterday and closes 3/12. (perfect for RIT students on a winter quarter schedule)

Students from middle school-grad school can enter, as can K-12 school educators either in formal schools or in after-school/weekend youth programs  (No college profs though, shuckins)  Kids get prizes and small awards, college students and educators split 30K and 40K awards respectively.

Scratch is an approved platform FOSS people!  I also pinged them to see if straight web tech such as HTML5, CSS and the rest of the usual suspects are acceptable and they gave me the thumbs up.

Get cracking!!!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ok, so what's half a year between friends?

I'm on sabbatical and juggling projects and traveling like mad.  In the last four weeks I was at four different conferences.  

First up was the Engineering Education Conference IEEE FIE in South Dakota where I hung out with the Teaching Open Source and Open Source Dot Com crowd and presented this paper on the Girl Scout Games for Life Workshop.  

The following week I was part of a panel at the IT Educators Conference, ACM SIGITE as part of a panel on FOSS and Computing Education.  I wrote up all the FOSS session of the day for OSDC. I hit the Audio Engineering Society's conference and was able to catch one of the Game Audio sessions there and write it up as well for Gamasutra.

Last week was Los Angeles.  Before I hit the conference I was able to squeeze in a bit of fun by going to Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer's Halloween performance monday night and touring the Paramount Film Archives with an old High School friend who runs them Tuesday morning.

Then I attended the IEEE International Games Innovation Conference to check it out as we'll be running it in Rochester next year.

Many projects running.  More about those in another post.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

RIT projects picked up by others!, Connectology, Scratch for the Girl Scouts

Students from the College of Charleston's "Software Engineering Practicum" course, taught by Jim Bowring, are working on FOSS projects this quarter and the "Four's Company" team decided to work on "Math Adventure:Fortune Hunter." They've been sending us weekly e-mails, engaging with the original student dev team here and are doing all the right things, so Kudos to Jim and the Team!

I presented on our XO/Sugar efforts at RIT's "Connectology" conference, which focuses on leadership skills and community service.  A small but dedicated crowd played with the games on the XO's and two are likely candidates for future work with us in the FOSSBox.

Since 2008 I've been offering a Girl Scouts workshop to help them achieve their "Games for Life" badge, with the help of Professor Jessica Bayliss and a rotating pool of Grad and Undergrad students support.  We've offered the workshop four times and will be giving the 5th on April 23rd.  This quarter FOSSBoxer Justin Lewis is porting the "build a game" introductory tutorials over to Scratch and I'll be revising the slides and putting them in to Open Office format.  After the workshop is over we'll be tweaking the materials a last time and then distributing them via the web so that others can offer the workshop to their local Girl Scouts as well.  I'll be posting something after the workshop is over to discuss how it went.

It seems that Spring has finally arrived in Rochester, thank God!  Will be hitting the bike trails for sure today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance

A team of Faculty and Students from RIT's Center for Student Innovation headed to DC this past week to present a paper Undergraduate Student Experiences at a Summer Research Fellows Program in Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Student Innovation (CSI).
While this was not an Open Source event per se, nor was the research program, it happened that the majority of student projects we showcased at the conference were FOSS projects or used FOSS tech.

FOSS Projects included STEM games and Open Video Chat for the OLPC,  an environmental monitoring and rating web site for alternative energy homes was built on top of jQuery and a protein visualization and matching project was built in Python.

Student blogs of the event can be found here and here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A New Quarter and the Joint is Jumping!

Well, we're barely into our second week of the academic quarter and already things are humming.

Two Co-Ops, JT Mengel who did work on the animation system research for Fortune Hunter and did some of the development and all of the graphics for Lemonade Stand this past Fall is working with an effort to revamp the Sugar Labs www site. JT's also done some Drupal work for me on our Game Education Journal.  He's joined on the Sugar Labs project by Mike Devine, who has done Fortune Hunter work in a previous class as well.

Zachary Stephens and David Silverman have reached out to the Go Activity developers to pick up some work on their project this quarter, Zachary Full-Time and David part-time.

Nice press release from Red Hat on OVC and POSSE this week.  Linux Pro will be doing a story on it and I've been asked to do an Open Source.Com piece on it as well.

Last but not least had the first of many meetings with colleagues from Uuniversity of Rochester this week on helping out with WeBWork, a 15 year-old web project for doong computer-based math assignments for college and upper level high school students.  We hope to be helping them do some modernization and polishing of this fantastic site.  They're also looking for guidance on making it a better-known HFOSS project and we'll be helping them there as well.

Last but not least we had an opportunity to assist our friends over at Oregon State University with an NSF grant to do some improvements to Beaversource.  Fingers crossed that it gets awarded because we're really looking forward to working with them and on Beaversource.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blocku on Sugar Labs

Our most recent Co-Op student in the FOSSBox, Kai Ito has completed and polished a game that was started last Spring in class, Blocku, a mathematical hybrid between the age-old "Magic Squares" math puzzles and Soduku.

Check it out!

Student ambassadors from the FOSS planet :-)

Last night's GREAT! Awards were a heavily old school corporate event.  But in the program,  attendees were able to read these words (xxcerpted and merged for easier blog reading)from the awards program last night...

Justin: I admire the values of the Open Source Community.  I love the mentality that anyone can join in; using their personal strengths to help the community at the same time they can receive assistance when they need it.  When you put your work out in the open community, you know it might be useful to someone else or find its way into another project.

(I admire...) Mel Chua.  She is what I call a community hacker.  She raises awareness in education and the community.  Mel started off as a hardware and software hacker and eventually moved to community hacking, spreading open source ideology.  She understands how the open source way can provide good to society as a whole.

I hope to work for a company that grasps and respects the values of open data and collaboration.  I would like to work somewhere where my knowledge and skills can impact the greater community and not just the product of a single company.

Fran:  My inspiration comes from my own experiences with technology as a kid-the excitement of tinkering with computers and gadgets and figuing out how they work, and programming computers to do imaginitive things.  I'd like to keep this tinkering spirit alive for future generations- one of the primary reasons I'm an enthusiastic supporter of the Tree/Open Source (FOSS) community, which aims to preserve the freedom to tinker with software and keep the spirit of innovation alive...I admire Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation, for his vigilant efforts in keeping the freedom to innovate alive.  I hope to work for a software company allied with the FOSS community.

Taylor:  My motivation comes from helping others.  I like to work on projects that provide tools for others to help themselves. The Open Video Chat project was a start at opening a communication outlet developed for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in developing countries through a video chat program on the XO Laptop.  I really admire Bill Gates' Humanitarian Work.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated billions of dollars worldwide to help those in need and his giving pledge encourages the wealthiest people in the world to donate half their wealth to charity when they die.  Five years from now I hope to have made an impact on someone else's life.  I think the greatest contribution I can make in this world is to provide tools for the next generation.

Digital Rochester GREAT! Awards

The students who developed the Open Video Chat proof-of-concept last Spring was recognized for their efforts last night at the first of an annual award events here in Rochester.

The web page for the awards says the following...

To recognize and celebrate the Greater Rochester community’s entrepreneurial spirit in technological achievement for advancing commerce and resource conservation.


Establish awards that are representative of Rochester’s historical and future technical development.  Build a sense of pride and community spirit. Identify distinct themes that are highly valued and sought-after in our region."

It's great to see an HFOSS project be recognized in a group of awards whose winners were primarily large and small businesses.

Congrats to Justin Lewis, Taylor Rose and Fran Rogers!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Facebook Dev Process. Compare to Open Source?

Skimmed these two interesting posts from different blogs on how Facebook's "Engineering Driven Process" works.  I can see some similarities and some differences from FOSS process.

While it's true up to a point that FOSS process differs from project to project based on the community, I think there's enough in common that an interesting piece could be written for comparing the two.

I'm not the right guy to do it.  Not an engineer and not enough FOSS experience under my belt, but I'm sure someone on the Planets would be the right person, or people, to give it a shot.

Here are the links...

The original

a detailed response thread

Looking forward to reading the future piece :-)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

FOSS@RIT: The Accomplishments of the Past Year.

Well, at my request Remy compiled a list and it blew my mind.  It's still rough,  just a first pass at a categorized list of links.  Over the next couple of weeks we'll polish it into a full article that discusses the bullet points in more detail, adds lessons learned, and lays out what we hope the next year will bring.

Bottom line, FOSS@RIT has pulled a lot together in 12 months and none of it would have happened without the people who got us started and always have our backs...

Mel Chua
Remy Decausemaker
Luke Macken
Karlie Robinson

Other thanks to those who've given us advice, opportunities or support in other ways...

Walter Bender
David Farning
Adam Holt

Some of those who moved on, but got us up and running...

Greg DeKoenigsberg
Eric Grace
Fred Grose

Truth be told, what RIT has accomplished has been due primarily to these people and to the students.  I just  put together a class and a home base and watch them go. While all of the students who've taken the class have had an impact, these particular regulars of the FOSS Box have led the way.  All of these folks have done multiple co-ops or summer research fellowships, manage on-going projects and/or help keep the FOSS Box running.  Many of them are seriously considering Open Source as a career path, so keep your eyes out for them, they're gonna be monsters.

Nathanial Case
Christopher (wiki) Deslandes
Justin Lewis
JT Mengel
Jon Meschino
Fran Rogers
Taylor Rose
David Silverman

Here's looking forward to an equally productive 2011.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

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

While in Hong Kong I got an introductory e-mail from T.K. Kang, who has been active in OLPC Asia.  T. K. and I had a pleasant dinner together Monday night, my last dinner in HK before returning home.  T.K. has been very active access technology efforts throughout his career and is interested in seeing more FOSS and OLPC/Sugar efforts in this area in Asia, as he feels that Hong Kong, China and other Pacific Rim countries are far behind the state of the art.

He pointed out that there were a variety of older, but successful DOS-based programs that had potential for OLPC application if they were converted over, as their resource demands would likely be in sync with the OLPC  technology.  He is interested in writing some grants to support access technology on the OLPC platforms.

This would be an area that a team of RIT students might be able to help him pursue down the road.  We will also look into providing him with some of our 1.0 XO's to use to pilot his efforts and to have working proof of concepts to demonstrate to support his pursuit of funding for his work.

All in all, a worthy trip, from presenting on our own efforts to finding other FOSS and OLPC/Sugar contacts in Hong Kong.  I'm looking forward to a New Year full of new efforts and a second POSSE on the RIT campus!