1. GNOME CAKE 3.10 - Fully Baked, No Bugs

    We had our October meeting of the ChicagoLUG this past Saturday, marking one full year of meeting together at least once a month. Go us! We celebrated the release of GNOME 3.10, had a talk, and had a good discussion about future plans for the LUG.

    First, the cake. It was a special cake (Thanks, Meg!). Yeah, it was GNOME CAKE. GNOME CAKE 3.10, actually. For anyone who wants to create such a cake in the future, please note that using all caps actually makes it taste better.

    GNOME CAKE 3.10. It's real cake. Yummy.

    As we talked about the cake, some newer folks actually thought that GNOME had create a Cake PHP application. We cleared that up. And then we ate cake.

    Freddy Martinez followed-up with a talk about encryption, giving us a good amount of detail on various ciphers, and configuring your mail application to send GPG-encrypted messages.

    Most of our time was spent discussion future plans for the LUG, though. Due to a space conflict, we moved our meeting to the outdoor seating area of a pub down the street (nice!). The big news is that Rackspace has granted us some generous cloud server resources, and it’s going to open up a lot of opportunity for LUG members to experiment with server hardware, develop some new skills and build some cool stuff.

  2. Changing Infrastructures

    I’ve not just been busy lately, but I also feel like I’ve been productive. I took some time to set up an instance of GitLab and GNU MediaGoblin on my own Linode instance (as a word of caution, they both currently use self-signed certs for SSL connections), shifted my blog from WordPress to Pelican, and have started to dog-food more GNOME applications (e.g., using Evolution for email). My contacts are syncing with my GNOME-sponsored OwnCloud account, and I even switched from using Irccloud to TapChat, which is hosted on my own server, as well.

    I guess it sounds like a lot because it is. It’s all been happening over the past couple of months, though. And even though there are still a few kinks to work out in some applications, things are settling down, and there isn’t so much to do.

    Aside from setting all of that stuff up, I’ve been working on a content inventory for the MediaGoblin project. I want to wrap that up this week, as it will help the team to have better organized docs. It is also the kind of docs project that doesn’t come around very often - MediaGoblin has a good amount of documentation, but it isn’t so much that it’s overwhelming for one person review. And I think that some structural changes to how the docs are set up will have a positive impact on the project and its workflow.

    Things are going well enough with the LUG, too. We have a meeting coming up this Saturday, and we have a good group of knowledgeable folks who have been participating regularly. Post-meeting discussions last time went on for a while, and were a bit on the noisy side … in a way, it impacted our ability to use our mental powers for hacking on GNOME (Thanks to the GNOME Foundation for their regular support of our endeavors, btw), but it was also part of a healthy, active group’s activity, so I can’t say I have any complaints.

    GNOME-wise, I’ve submitted a few patches (yes, patches - not diffs) to Deja-Dup and Totem docs, recently and have also been reviewing a bit of the excellent Seahorse (aka Passwords and Keys) docs that are being worked on by Aruna Sankaranarayanan.

    It’s summertime, too, so … now that I’m done with this blog post, I’m going to go outside. Cheers. : )

  3. Flourish Conference and a Work-in-Progress

    This past weekend I was able to attend and speak at the Flourish open source conference hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago. I say the event is hosted by UIC, but it’s actually a student-run event. The organizers had to do a lot more leg-work than usual this year, but pulled it off well. Big, big kudos to the Flourish staff for yet another great event.

    My slides are up on my owncloud instance for those who would like to get a glimpse of what I talked about. As you may notice, I had a lot of fun with GNOME’s depiction of cats, particularly when creating the slide that references how the GNOME team has iterated on the initial GNOME 3.0 design:

    gnome shell presentation image

    I think GNOME 3.8 is a great release, and the gist of the talk was that, if you didn’t like GNOME 3.0 (perhaps too many rough edges and stray cats), that GNOME 3.8 might make you want to take another look.

    I wasn’t in the audience, so I can’t say for sure, but I perhaps reached my intended goal with at least one person in attendance.

    As a final note, you may also notice that this site is different. In light of the recent DDoS attacks against Wordpress sites, I’ve gone ahead and pushed out my new Pelican-based website a bit early. There are still some kinks in it, but I’ll be ironing those out in the coming weeks. Until then, please pardon the dust. : )

  4. GNUS of GNOME in Chicago, March Edition

    This past Saturday we held our monthly ChicagoLUG / GNOME hackfest event at Pumping Station: One. It turned out to be pretty informative and productive. Evil Joel Luellwitz gave a solid talk on Linux security, explaining quite a bit about how /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow work. He included details about various hashes and logic / programming decisions that are incorporated into these core utilities to help keep the elite hackers out of our computers.

    evil joel giving a talk

    He also explained a bit about choosing good passwords, highlighting how easy it is to crack simple passwords. I think most of us know how easily simple passwords can be broken. To think about how easy it is is still kind of humbling, though.

    We had some new faces at the event, including one young woman who is just a freshman in high school, and who made the trip up from the far south side of Chicago. She had heard about Linux, and a page on Linux.com encouraged her to find a local user group. She made the trip up to our event by herself, and Joel even had to talk to her mom on the phone to explain a bit about the group and reassure her that we are legit.

    Joel took the time during our hackfest portion to get a $DISTRO set up on her computer. She seemed to pick up on things pretty quickly, and she’s going to be giving Linux a shot! Not even dual booting – just going cold turkey. We all wished that we’d had the intuition and nerve to seek out such groups at her age.

    The hackfest portion went well. Meg worked on adding CSS classes to UI elements of a GJS application that she’s been working on. Adding those classes will allow her to apply theming elements to the UI using regular CSS, and by the end of the day she was able to display her app with both light and dark GTK themes. Good stuff.

    Andrew Spalding got to working on the new GJS-based GNOME-Music application, and I think he was able to get it to build by the end of the session. I reviewed about 20 of Sindhu’s gedit documentation patches, and merged them into master by the close of the day. Sindhu has been doing some solid work, and has moved on to the Rhythmbox documentation.

    Most people headed home at around 5pm, but a few of us stuck around a while longer, and got sucked into unloading an electron microscope that had been donated to the hackerspace. Pretty sweet! Also pretty heavy.

    We won’t be having a hackfest in April, as we have both Flourish and Penguicon coming up next month. We hope to set up a booth at Flourish, though. And I’m going try and get some ChicagoLUG stickers for the event.

    Many thanks to the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring food for this hackfest. : )

    See you around. : )

  5. GNOME Docs Hackfest - Day One - Complete

    It was a long day of travel to get to the GNOME docs hackfest in Brno, but I arrived safely on Friday. Knowing that they would be concerned, I sent my family a picture to let them know that I was ok, and that I had indeed made it to the Czech Republic.

    sleep beer in prague

    This picture was taken in Prague, where we met up with Andre Klapper for lunch. Andre and Florian Nadge gave us a brief tour of Prague on foot, but we still had an almost three hour bus ride to Brno. It was a long day.

    After a restful night of sleep, we woke up, got started, and day one of our hackfest is now in the books. Overall it was a very productive day, and I feel like we’re off to a very good start.

    We started at about 9:30am, laying out goals and plans for the hackfest. Here are some of the goals that we laid out:

    • Revised GNOME help for version 3.8
    • gedit updates that reflect the switch to gmenu (almost complete now)
    • Merge updated gedit snippets for Mallard. The new snippets incorporate the syntax of the entire Mallard 1.0 draft specification (many thanks to Jaromír Hradílek for his work on this)
    • Assist Sindhu with gnome-terminal documentation
    • Passwords and Keys documentation
    • Updates to the GNOME Help landing page. These updates will be necessary to have a smooth transition between the Getting Started videos and the docs.
    • … other

    I have to put "other" because I don’t have the list in front of me, and other hackfest folks aren’t around for the time being to offer their input. There is a lot more that we’re working on, including at least a couple of people primarily focusing on developer documentation. If you are curious about the full plan, I will update this blog post tomorrow morning(-ish) with the additional details, and you can check-back then.

    We also discussed one process improvement. We’re going to stop using gitorious.org for draft documentation and just start using branches in the appropriate projects on git.gnome.org instead. Using a branch on git.gnome.org will simplify things for new contributors who ask what there is to work on (the new contributor would only need to learn how to use git.gnome.org, and not also learn gitorious), it will simplify the merging process once docs are ready for merging, and it will also help teach new contributors about managing and merging branches with git.

    A couple of things make this a very promising hackfest. We couldn’t have timed the hackfest better, as Gnome 3.7.9 (the beta release for GNOME 3.8) was just released. That means GNOME is in a feature freeze (a good time to work on documentation updates), and the builds are mostly stable. Using jhbuild to get the latest bits has been working quite well. Though there may be a few freeze breaks, we’re certainly in a much better spot than we have been for prior releases. Kudos to the developers for getting us to this point at this point in the release cycle.

    I also feel like we have a good focus and the resources to do our work. The task list that we put up on the board seemed like a decent scope of work for a hackfest of this length. To get all of our work done, it helps that the group here is an experienced bunch. We have a good set of docs writers here, and a whole host of GNOME developers present for the developers conference. Having them around will be be very helpful when we need to pester someone with application-specific questions.

    I’m sure I’ll have a couple more updates as the hackfest progresses, but this is all for now. Many thanks to Florian Nadge, Petr Kovar and Jana Švárová for being such wonderful hosts, and to the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my travel.

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