Tag Archives: FOSS

pem and the art of expense management

I was looking for an alternative to keeping track of expenses via a spreadsheet. Given that it isn’t too intuitive, the alternative was scribbling it on pieces of paper and then collating them when I have time.

Somewhere along the way came pem. This command line tool is elegantly simple to use. Having the developer nearby also means that I can “demand” features in the software. Prasad has blogged about his recent release. I just love the fact that it allows me to publish a simple report of expenses by category. Comes in very handy to produce a report for Max. I have been using it for a while to keep track of the “Community Architecture” related expenses that I am accountable for.

Highly recommended. By the way, this blog entry is being written with the offline client for WordPress called Lekhonee. If you have been using WordPress and, desired an offline client, give this a try. The developer could do with some feedback as well.

ps: Contrary to rumour, pem isn’t pjp expense manager 😉

Global <-> local

In all the years that I have been interacting with the various upstream FOSS projects, reasoning and convincing various groups to have a ‘local’ view of issues that complements the global strategy has been an uphill task. Sometimes it is just that interpersonal relations have been able to overcome the curve. At other times, it has just been a constant pegging away with facts, data points and a regular representation of issues that validate the need to approach and integrate local issues within the fold of the greater goals of the project. Either way, it makes me happy to see another project realize the need to align the views and inputs of the local participants and, figure out ways and means to respect their inputs and listen to their feedback.

The Regional Groups aspect of OpenOffice.org has gone a bit unnoticed and somewhat unloved (and, it has been my fault since I do not recall talking too much on this). This would be one area where it would be good to have a few folks stand up and take ownership as a steward.

In other news of the day, I have an @gnome.org alias for myself (thanks SysAdmins). Sadly, it has the usual pain of making a botched job of my actual name and, by now, I am so used to folks chopping up my first name every way they feel that I am more amused and less bewildered at the lack of appreciation of names.

Related to fonts for Bengali

I noticed that a few Bengali fonts are available for download from this URL (link to a .zip file). I was wondering if anyone could provide information about:

  • the licenses of the fonts
  • whether they can be redistributed commercially/non-commercially
  • an upstream developer/contact to ensure that feedback can be provided.

All things considered, it would be good to assess whether they can be packaged for distributions.

I asked the same question on the Bangla Computing Group list too.

Can OpenOffice.org Writer ‘flip’ my page ?

It has been a while since the angel talked with me, however, I haven’t ended up with a clean solution for getting OpenOffice.org Writer to flip the page when printing out. Currently, one has to do the following steps:

  1. Export to PDF the appropriate pages
  2. Use pdfjam tools (more specifically, pdfnup) to collate the 2 pages into a single page
  3. Use a tool like GIMP to make an image of that PDF
  4. Flip the image

Isn’t it possible to use the print dialog from the software to handle the above as a seamless step ?

GNOME.Asia Summit 2009: The dates are in.

Some days back I posted a small mail to the GNOME Marketing List, which has gone somewhat un-noticed. So, with the obligatory drum-rolls, trumpets, cymbals and usual oohs and aahs, here’s the big announcement:

GNOME.Asia Summit 2009 would be held during the 3rd and 4th of December 2009 at Pune, India.

Ok. That was fairly easy. The big ticket items that would be posted soon-ish are:

  • news about the web-site
  • unveiling of the logo for the event
  • Venue and accommodation related stuff
  • Call for Papers (yes, the absolute thrill of previewing good topics is irresistible)

So, here’ what those of us working towards making this event a success would request you to do.

The GNOME.Asia Summit 2009 is aimed towards a much wider coverage by pulling in users and developers (hmm… what’s new you say ?), ISVs, OEMs (especially NetBook OEMs), tools and infrastructure folks, documentation folks and of course participants from other desktop environments. Since we may (or, most likely may not) know all these folks, if you’d be knowing someone who should be at the event, do help us get in touch with them (drop a comment on this blog entry and, I’ll make sure that we are talking). Additionally, pass the word around to your favorite GNOME folks in order to cajole/coax/tantrum them into attending. And, if you are a company who is interested in sponsorship – you are one person I’d love to start a conversation with the moment I return from my (supposed ;)) vacation.

In short, please give the event some love and, help make this a wonderful summit to attend.

Yes We Did !

A manifesto is defined as a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. The word itself has a genesis in the word manifestus meaning clear, evident.

For those who haven’t been following it, the FOSS Manifesto which was published recently, provides the clearest articulation of the will and motivation of the followers and practitioners of FOSS as both a technology and a philosophy. It breaks new ground from two aspects:

  • by demonstrating that there is a need for the political parties within the system to grow up and embrace the newer issues that are relevant in addition to the existing (and, somewhat age-old) issues that are raised during the time of elections and,
  • by providing ample proof that a completely inclusive process of asking for and receiving inputs in the effort to shape and mould public policy works

There would be some objections on the second point in terms of reach out to the masses, but the very fact that the world of FOSS isn’t limited to the elitist groups of folks who are interested in FOSS for the mere sake of FOSS philosophy is something noteworthy. Having FOSS (where the last S isn’t just software) plonked bang in the middle of a political consciousness is an effort worth applauding. This is thought of to be the elections where the youth of the country are expected to exercise their will, their comprehension and their ability to shape the nation’s destiny. The youth now have an agenda which they can feel comfortable rallying around and strive towards making a change. To borrow a phrase from an electoral process that was filled with hope, optimism and choice – Yes We Can !

For all those who worked tirelessly to make this manifesto happen and, get it accepted into the mainstream political spectrum – here’s a round of applause.

Read more here.

That lazy,hazy,crazy bug of summer

There was this niggling blog entry which pointed to a bug. And, what a bug it was. A problem that is somewhat well entrenched when it comes to Bengali (India) bits is that of pluralism. There are far too many stakeholders and, a larger number of dispersed data points that need to be lined up before a conclusion can be arrived at. Especially so, because over the years there has been enough discussion about divergence of views on the data points rather than covergence of opinion leading to closing of tasks.

So, Runa poked and prodded a few folks. And, got things done. That’s awesome and that’s what makes her a rockstar.

Some more on education

Taking up from where I left it last time around, one aspect that should work out is producing a distribution that is packaged with applications relevant to education. The catch phrase over here is “relevant to education”. And, it means thinking about something what the Fedora Electronic Labs does.

The Fedora Education SIG seems to have a slightly different approach and, a different objective. Especially the part:

The Fedora Education Spin is the number one goal right now and includes software to use it as a terminal server client. In parallel some SIG members work in integrating K12LTSP into Fedora. Once that work is finished it remains to be seen if we integrate that work into the Fedora Education Spin.

It would be good to try and see if a Fedora based release can be done which gets installed out-of-the-box and, somewhat along the lines of this blog entry, wrap meta-data around the applications so that it becomes relevant to the target consumer. There are a couple of hops to go before LTSP and such can be packaged into a complete ‘solution’ that comes preloaded with relevant content. Getting the bits out there for playing would also allow a lot of volunteer driven innovation to land up and enhance the process.

I guess I am talking more about the modular breakdown of competencies that allow a larger group of people to start contributing in whatever way they can. Having such a bit would help in FiE and OCiE as well. Ideally, this could be something that is possible to be explored by any upstream project irrespective of whether it is a distribution. So, let’s say a GNOME-Edu compose set that let’s one package a lot of educational applications using GNOME bits to make it available as a functional-out-of-the-box installation.

Getting started with the XO Camp and OLPC-Pune

The OLPC-Pune folks are a highly enthusiastic group. Together with Digital Bridge Foundation, they organized a “Getting Started with the XO” camp on 01-March-2009 at SICSR. A fair number of folks had signed up and, in the end, we ended up having a nice round of discussion about what to do to move forward. Amit would be posting the formal minutes to the mailing list, however, a quick summary of the work moving forward can be listed as:

  • Technology related : task break down for a potential deployment, assessing a couple of more candidate sites and rolling out a deployment at a single one, reviewing the mr_IN translations available
  • Learning related : Assessing the content available at HBCSE in terms of packaging and distribution via the XO
  • Marketing : getting more folks in, creating a messaging that can be handed over to anyone, investigate areas and methods to raise funds for the group.

It was a fun day and well-spent. In fact, for me it was doubly interesting because I got to learn about a team of people from a group called “Make A Difference” (MAD). They are based across Pune, Chennai, Cochin among other places. What is of specific importance is that it is a student volunteer group involved in imparting English communication skills so as to enable a better chance in the employment market. In Pune they are currently 180 strong and, their ‘credit’ system whereby a volunteer earns credits for classes taken (or, loses credits for assignments missed) is something working looking into.

Updates: Pictures are put up here and, the URL for MAD passed on by Runa.