Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'planet gnome'


Tonight Erica and I went to a candlelight vigil in nearby Danville. The vigil was honouring the life of a Danville-born marine who was killed recently in Afghanistan. We joined Erica’s family there to mark our respects. We didn’t know him and we don’t know his family, but we felt like it was the right thing to do to join the vigil.

I had never been to a candlelight vigil before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We drove down to Oak Hill Park in Danville where we saw a crowd of around three or four hundred people had gathered. The crowd was diverse; fellow service men and women, students, couples, young children, and a precession of what looked like bikers holding American flags. We were handed a candle and a local pastor started the ceremony. He talked about this young man’s life, his service to his country, and this tremendous loss to his family. We heard some tearful words from his brother who shared that faith was helping him and his family with their grief.

The pastor talked about the darkness that had fallen upon this local community and asked the crowd to light their candles. Suddenly the once dark park was awash with light. I could see the tearful onlookers marking their respects. While saddening, the sense of local support and emotion was heartening, and I hope it provided comfort to his family.

It is all too easy in our busy lives, surrounded by work, the Internet, television, and other distractions to see these sacrifices made by the brave men and women in the armed forces as just another casualty of war of someone we don’t know. I suspect the majority of people who joined us there tonight didn’t know this young man either.

Well, he was called Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Corral and he was 19. I wish I had got to meet him.

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I am looking to hire a new member for my team (the Community Team) here at Canonical. I am looking for a bright, motivated, and experienced person to build, maintain and develop a cohesive, productive and effective Ubuntu QA community. I am looking for someone with solid QA experience particular in the areas of testing and defect management.

This role will be full-time working at Canonical, you will be working from home with regular travel to various events (such as UDS and team sprints), and you will be working in a fast-paced, productive, and energetic environment. Expect to work with evolving requirements and focus and be able come up with creative solutions to interesting QA challenges. This is a really exciting role that is designed to bring huge value to the Ubuntu community in the area of quality by refining, optimizing, and growing our QA community participation.

Key responsibilities and accountabilities:

  • Build and maintain a strong, consistent, and consolidated QA community and to act as a point of reference for this community in continuing its growth and opportunities, and resolving issues.
  • Maintain a set of online resources, produce content for those resources and build community participation to generate and optimize content for and from the community.
  • Develop and refine better working practises to ease and improve how community members and stakeholders interact with the Ubuntu QA team.
  • Liaise with the Canonical Ubuntu Platform Team to better align the direction of the Ubuntu QA community with internal QA needs and workflow.
  • Regularly acquire and evaluate feedback from the community and our partners to help improve Ubuntu QA.
  • Be responsive and sensitive to the concerns, ambitions and direction of the community, our upstreams and business units inside Canonical.

Required skills and experience

  • Strong QA skills and experience, strong networking and social networking skills, good relationship building abilities, process driven, able to manage multiple work streams, good prioritisation, independent, willing to travel potentially 25% of their work time, able to resolve conflict, able to communicate well in written form and produce electronic content.
  • Experience of working with community Open Source projects, technical experience with QA technologies and workflows.
  • Have strong social skills, a good networker and a good technical knowledge of Ubuntu, Power and the Open Source and upstream/downstream development process. Candidates should be process driven, strategically minded and committed. Good public speaking skills a bonus.
  • Candidates should provide evidence of existing experience and work in the Open Source community and suitable references.

How To Apply

To apply, see the job description and apply using the apply for this Position button.

Please don’t send me your resume directly; if you use the system it makes it much easier for me to track all the applications.

Good luck!

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Seven years ago Ubuntu 4.10, the Warty Warthog, was released. It was the very first Ubuntu release.

I remember when it came out, feeling like this was the right step forward for Linux and Free Software. While the technology looked awesome (removable USB with automatic mounting, woo!), and it was built on the rock that is Debian, the community-orientated nature of Ubuntu right out the gate filled in the complete picture for me.

Since then I believe Ubuntu has become a defining technology, and we have only just begun. Here’s to the next seven years!

Happy birthday, Ubuntu, thanks to Mark Shuttleworth for investing so heavily Free Software, and to Mark and the original Ubuntu team for creating a release that inspired so many of us to develop such a passion to join the Ubuntu journey!

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Here in the Ubuntu family we have a burning ambition to create Operating Systems for Desktop and Server that is simple, easy to use, available in your language, and entirely free. We believe in technological freedom, open standards, and breaking down the digital divide.

Part of delivering this vision is to provide a wide variety and selection of apps; people love and need apps to do their work. Fortunately we have a stunning developer platform to harness, we have just needed to focus our efforts on improving the awareness, accessibility, usability, and delivery of that platform.

In the Ubuntu 11.10 cycle we have performed a lot of work to ease how you can create apps for Ubuntu and how you can get your apps in the Ubuntu Software Center and available to millions of Ubuntu users.

Ubuntu 11.10 is a great platform for creating and delivering applications. We provide:

  • A powerful platform – Ubuntu provides a power development platform out of the box. Powerful developer tools, comprehensive audio/video/graphics support, support for integrating with Ubuntu One, and much more means that whatever the vision for your app in your head, you can deliver it in Ubuntu.
  • Flexible Development Choices – in Ubuntu we don’t force you into a box with your choice of development framework, but we instead have a variety of powerful options available. Whether you want to write your apps in Python with PyGTK and Quickly, write them in C++ and QML with the Qt framework, or other solutions, we have options to suit all tastes.
  • Collaborative Development Tools – writing the first cut of your app is only the beginning. If you are writing an Open Source app we also have a comprehensive collaborative development tool called Launchpad available which allows you to collaborate around code, bugs, planning features, translations, providing support, building packages, and more.
  • Simple Experience for Your Users – Ubuntu provides an easy to use Ubuntu Software Center that is filled with different apps across a wide range of genres, complete with ratings and reviews, and many can be tested before they are downloaded. Your app will appear seamlessly in the Ubuntu Software Center. When a user chooses your app it is installed effortlessly.
  • We support Open Source and Commercial Apps – want to sell your app in the Ubuntu Software Center? No problem, we provide a means to handle the app payments as well as reports for how many sales you have made. Want to give your app away for free? No problem, you can deploy your Open Source apps in the Ubuntu Software Center too!

So let’s talk about how all this works.

Creating Your App

To create your app, you should first go to the freshly released includes everything you need to get started.

There you can see a video tutorial for creating an Ubuntu app in five minutes. You can also find resources including API documentation and tutorials for the platform, developer tools, and more.

If you are creating an Open Source app it is recommended that you upload your application to Launchpad:

Launchpad provides a raft of features for working together on your apps.

Launchpad provides a variety of different features for working with others around your apps:

  • Working On Code – Launchpad and Bazaar distributed versional control strip away the barriers to contributing to your project. In just a few key strokes anyone can create their own local branch of your trunk with full version control. When they’re ready, they can upload their branch to Launchpad and propose it for merging back into your trunk. Code review — by web and email — gives you a public forum to discuss and approve or reject the merge. You can even use Launchpad to import Git, CVS and Subversion repositories into Bazaar branches.
  • Bug Tracking – Free software communities often share code, meaning the same bugs can crop up in different contexts. With Launchpad, you can share bug reports, statuses, patches and comments across project boundaries. You can even share bug data with other trackers, such as Bugzilla and Trac. There’s also everything else you need in a bug tracker: web, email and API interfaces, links between bugs and fixes, team-based delegation and more.
  • Translations – See your software translated by a community of over 47,000 people working in 293 languages. Launchpad makes translation easy for everyone. Translators get a simple web interface, with automatic suggestions from a library of more than 16 million strings. You, as project owner, decide the balance between openness and quality. And you get standard GNU GetText files for integration with your software.
  • Build Ubuntu Packages – Build and distribute Ubuntu packages using your own personal APT repository, hosted by Launchpad. Whether you’re publishing experimental builds, backports or betas, your Personal Package Archive lets end-users install your packages using the tools they already know and with automatic updates.
  • Create Feature Specifications – Community planning for your project’s road map. Anyone can use Launchpad to register a blueprint for your project, while you decide the priority and time-scales. Target chunks of work to forthcoming releases, see who’s working on them and track their progress.
  • Support and Questions – Track help requests just like bug reports, with community support contacts, statuses and email notifications. When you come across common questions add them to your FAQ library and you get a searchable knowledge base for free. If a support request is actually a bug, no problem: one click and it becomes a bug report.

A powerful feature in Launchpad is the Personal Package Archive support. This provides a fantastic way of releasing your software to a set of testers so you can resolve bugs before you propose it for inclusion in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Getting Your App Into Ubuntu

With your Free or Commercial app ready to make available to millions of Ubuntu users, you can use the Ubuntu MyApps Portal to propose your application, keep up to date on it’s submission status, and in the case of commercial apps, see how many sales you have made and how much revenue it has generated. You can find out full details of how to add your app and how the submission process works by clicking here.

Getting your app in Ubuntu has never been easier!

Commercial applications will be reviewed by the Canonical apps team and free apps will be reviewed by the Ubuntu community Application Review Board team. When your app passes some suitability assessments (e.g. ensuring it runs, installs correctly, does not include illegal or illicit content) it will be approved and added to the Ubuntu Software Center:

Installing your app on Ubuntu is only a click away for your users.

If you want to find out more about selling your apps on Ubuntu, be sure to see the FAQ.

Getting Help

We want to provide a strong, supporting environment for developers. Be sure to see the following resources:

  • Mailing Listjoin
  • Support Channeljoin
  • Ubuntu Developer Blogsubscribe
  • @ubuntuappdev on Twitterfollow

Be sure to share your ideas, comments, and news about apps that you are working on to bring to Ubuntu!

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Some of you will be familiar with the presentation I have done in the past on burnout, what it is, how to tell the symptoms, the 12 stages of burnout, and how to handle it in our communities. When I did the presentation I got some positive feedback that the content often resonated with people and their own burnout symptoms, so I have been keen to present an online version of the content that can be shared within our communities.

Tonight I just released the second video in my Community Management Crib Notes series, and devoted the video to this topic. I really encourage you to check it out, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the topic of burnout and it’s risks:

Can’t see the vid? See it here!

I am producing more videos about community management, leadership, and best practice, so be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel.

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Ubuntu 11.04 got a very positive review CNN in India this weekend. Refered to as:

One of the world wide web’s best kept secrets.

Check out the video below and skip to 15.05:

Can’t see it? See the video here.


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On Monday next week I will be welcoming the sixth horseman to the Community Team at Canonical; he will be joining Daniel Holbach, Jorge Castro, David “the man with the plan” Planella, Ahmed Kamal, and myself on our adventure to build a fun, productive, and passionate Ubuntu community.

He is Eric Ward and he will be joining us as the QA Community Coordinator. Eric is based in the USA and will be tasked to refine and continue to grow our Quality Assurance community. He will be looking at what we need to fix in the on-ramp, getting our manual tests in shape, growing our community of testers, building a regular testing cadence, and then interfacing with Daniel and others around how our community of developers can resolve issues highlighted in this testing.

Eric is a smart guy, and we are all excited to work with him. So you can all get to know him a little better, I asked him a few questions about his new role to give you some background:

How did you get involved with open source projects?

Over the years, several projects I have worked on have leveraged open source software (Apache HTTP server, Apache Tomcat) as well as proprietary software (IIS, WebSphere, etc) as part of their development / deployment environments. While working on these various projects, my teammates and I almost always found it easier to find support, documentation, work-arounds and solutions for issues that would crop up during our product release cycles for our open source components versus any of the proprietary components we worked with. These experiences are when I first started to become consciously aware of some of the advantages of open source projects and their communities.

While I was working at Novell they acquired SUSE Linux and I was assigned to help work on the QA efforts for the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED). This was my first major exposure to working on an open source project and I had a great time working with engineers like Larry Ewing on the F-Spot component of the project.

From a purely hobbyist stand point, I’ve enjoyed tinkering with mythtv boxes using pcHDTV cards and using dd-wrt on some of my Wi-Fi routers.

How did you get involved in QA?

During college I worked for Novell on a couple of their QA teams. This gave me a great opportunity to wet my appetite and learn about various technologies and processes involved with the software development process. During this time I thoroughly enjoyed setting up the test environments and QAing the products I was responsible for.

So while I’ve always strived to make the products I work on more robust and reliable, what I’ve truly enjoyed about QA work is getting to work with superb engineers, technologies and breaking stuff.

When it is all said and done, it is great feeling to work on products / projects where you can see your contributions and the contributions of your team have improved the lives of people you know as well as countless others that use the product.

What excites you about the role working and working with the community team?

As an avid Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, Lily Allen and Adele fan, I thought it might be a good idea to expand my horizons and to mingle with a team that has a flair for slightly more heavy metal tunes.

Members of my extended family and I have enjoyed using Ubuntu for our personal computing needs for a couple years now. As such, I am excited to get the chance to make contributions to help improve an already great Linux distribution and community. I’m also really looking forward to getting the chance to play with juju and the cloud technologies that Canonical is working on.

Eric starts on Monday…give him a warm welcome, folks!

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Yep, hair is an enemy of the Bacon household.

A little while back I mentioned that my brother was working on a coffee powered car and working to set a world land speed record with it. Well, he did it, he set the record, and a little media storm has brewed around it.

Check out the BBC News video of the record, the coverage on Slashdot, and on ExtremeTech.

Be sure to follow him on Twitter.

I am so proud of him; what a stunning accomplishment. I can’t wait to see what he does next with it!

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Everyone knows what Ubuntu One is, right? While you may know it as the system for syncing your files, contacts, notes, and bookmarks, and where you can buy and stream music, Ubuntu One is also a comprehensive developer platform. With it you can utilize pretty much all of these services right from your app, and Ubuntu One brings some pretty compelling opportunities to desktop, web, and mobile apps.

Didn’t know this? Well, fasten your seatbelts.

On Thursday 1st September at 7pm in Lecture Theatre C014 at Manchester Metropolitan University the ever-enjoyable Stuart Langridge will be giving a presentation about how to write applications that harness Ubuntu One. He will talk about the different APIs, how to write web, desktop and mobile apps using the technology, and the interesting ways in which Ubuntu One can empower your apps.

In addition to this there will be a chance to have a few drinks afterwards, get to know the attendees and the Manchester techn community, and have a great time.

To join, register on eventbrite and also see the lanyrd link.

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So here we are in the thick of the Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot development cycle, and I am really excited about the progress that is being made. I thought it could be interesting to show off some of the work that is going on with a quick screenshot tour.

This cycle has been very much focused on integrating GNOME3 into Ubuntu and focusing on fit and finish both at a software and design level on Unity and it’s components. The goal with Ubuntu 11.10 is to build on the accomplishments in Ubuntu 11.04 and to continue refining the experience.

Before, I start, remember, there are a few caveats here:

  • Ubuntu 11.10 is not finished. There are still plenty of bugs, quirks and other oddities that need fixing.
  • What you see here may well change.
  • I have smudged out some personal bits, but it should be pretty clear which bits are smudged out.

Oh, and click on the images below to see them full-size.

So let’s get started with what the typical desktop looks like right now in 11.10:

Here you can see a few changes:

  • The Ubuntu button is now on the launcher (user testing told us most people look there to launch applications).
  • There has been some small changes to the indicators in the top right part of the screen.
  • Here you can see I have a number of apps open, and see the concertina effect on the Launcher.
  • Note how there are no longer Apps / Files places on the Launcher.

So, if you click that Ubuntu button on the Launcher you see the new Dash:

Here the dash opens up in this really nice translucent way, and the launcher and panel look nice and translucent too. The translucency is actually tweaked based upon your wallpaper, so it shades it smartly.

You can see at the bottom of the dash are a series of little icons. This is now where you find your different lenses (Apps, Files, a new Music one, Gwibber etc) and this makes it much nicer to see the different types of lens, instead of having to find them on the launcher.

Let’s take a look at the Apps lens:

(I know some icons are missing in this screenshot, that is a bug)

Here you can see the lens works in a similar way as the apps lens in 11.04, but we have this new Filter Results feature (which is open in this screenshot). Here you can select different categories and those categories will only be shown in the icon view on the left. You can also search by rating which is useful for apps that are shown available to download.

Different lenses have different types of filters. As an example, here is the Gwibber lens:

As you can see this provides different methods of displaying different types of content.

One other cool element of the dash is that it uses an active blur. This means it really blurs what is behind it, so for example, it will blur a video as it plays behind it in the movie player:

Let’s now look at loading apps. Here is GEdit in it’s maximized state:

As you can see, Unity provides a lot of workable space and the shell just wraps around the app in the most minimal way possible to give you as much space as possible for the app. You can also see that when maximized the window buttons and menus are not shown; they only appear if you hover the window title with the mouse. This actually makes the desktop feel much nicer and less cluttered.

Here you can also see that the toolbar buttons have been styled with the dark theme to carry this theme throughout the desktop. This is a subtle but really nice change. As an example, here is Thunderbird with the same style applied:

In the GEdit example the icons are not monochrome but the Thunderbird ones are. We are not expecting an icon refresh in Ubuntu 11.10, but I suspect in the future we will see more icons tuned for the darker toolbars. Here is the compose window:

An app that has had quite a refresh has been Gwibber:

Gwibber is now much faster, much sleeker to use, and just a far more pleasant social networking experience. It also looks wonderfully consistent with the dark theme.

Another app that has been re-jigged is the Ubuntu Software Center:

The new Ubuntu Software Center feels faster, is more interesting to look at and explore, and feels far more integrated into the system.

I am also delighted to see the wonderful work that has gone into the GNOME Control Center in GNOME3 also brings the same consistent look, feel, and ease of use:

The whole configuration experience feels slicker and easier, and here is one of the panels:

Let’s now talk indicators:

Lots of great work and stability improvements has been performed here such as adding settings links that are relevant to each indicator, improved power and me indicators and other improvements.

Finally, a wonderful new feature added is the refreshed Alt-Tab switcher:

I absolutely love how this works, and I love how it shares the look and feel of the wider desktop. Here you can hit Alt-Tab and then use the arrow keys to move around to select the app you want to see. If there are more apps open than space in the switcher, they concertina just like in the launcher — it looks really cool.

If you have multiple windows open for an app (e.g. Firefox), you can find the icon and press the down arrow to show the multiple windows:

…and that pretty much wraps up the screenshot tour. I hope you enjoyed having a leaf through some of the features you can expect to see in Ubuntu 11.10.

I am really excited for the release, and I particularly enjoy how integrated, unified, consistent and slick the entire system feels. I also love the fact that the design, colouring, and structure is noticeably Ubuntu. So, all in all, I am really looking forward to Ubuntu 11.10 and the opportunity it has to put Free Software in the hands of more and more people. Thanks to everyone in the community who has contributed to it so far!

Beta 1 will be here on the 1st September, so get ready to test it my friends!

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Thanks to Reid Beels for the photo.

A few weeks ago was the Community Leadership Summit 2011 in beautiful Portland, Oregon. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, I started the CLS three years ago to be the central meeting place for those who are passionate about community leadership and management to get together to share ideas, experiences, and get to know each other. Apologies for the delay in getting this online. Life has been more than a little hectic recently. All good though. :-)

I deliberately architected the CLS with a few core values. Firstly it is free and always will be; I believe that it is always important that everyone is welcome and that you don’t need dollars in your pocket to learn how to grow a community. Secondly, the event is strictly vendor-neutral. The goal of the CLS is to provide an environment in which everyone is welcome to share their experience and knowledge and thus everyone is an equal at the event (no-one gets elevated privileges because they work for a particular company). I want offer my thanks to our sponsors Google, Microsoft, Ohloh, OpenStack, Oracle, and of course our wonderful friends at O’Reilly. Each of these companies sponsored the CLS in the true spirit that the event was intended.

So how did it go?

I was really happy with CLS this year. We had a large number of attendees show up on the Saturday and while there are always fewer people on the Sunday, the Sunday was jam packed with interesting discussions and plenty of folks joining us.

The CLS is an unconference, which means that the attendees volunteer and run sessions. This gives the event a far more diverse range of content instead of the other organizers and myself deciding what the topics should be. Throughout the weekend I wandered around and popped into sessions and every session had thriving and vibrant discussions going on.

In addition to the diversity of content, I was really happy this year with the diversity of people attending too. We had people from a wide range of organizations joining us, and many people who had never been to an unconference before. I also noticed a very high proportion of people who work professionally as community managers. I am delighted to see our profession continuing to grow – one of the primary reasons I organize the CLS and wrote the The Art of Community is to continue to grow the profession of community management.

I was delighted to also see event continues to strike a positive gender balance; often these types of events are filled with men, but the CLS has traditionally had a high attendance of women, and more-so this year. I am not sure if this is indicative of community management or the CLS being a comfortable, empowering and safe environment for women, but I hope it is both. On this note, I also put together a anti-harassment policy (unceremoniously nabbed from the Ubuntu Developer Summit site) just before CLS11 kicked off.

Selfishly, I am delighted with how CLS11 turned out. I got to listen to everyone’s stories, learn new approaches to community management, and make a bunch of new friends. I really do think I met some of the nicest people in my life at CLS11. :-)

Fortunately it seems the other attendees came away with a similar experience. The event feedback sessions were full of positive experiences of the event and positive suggestions for the future. There is lots of discussion continuing on Twitter with the #cls11 hashtag.

For those who are curious, yes, CLS12 is going to happen next year in Portland again. I will get the website updated when I get more details of the dates.

Thanks to the other organizers, Van Riper, Dave Nielsen, Nate DiNiro, Marsee Henon, John Jons, Jeff Osier-Mixon and Erica Bacon for helping with the event and thanks for everyone who came along!

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For quite some time now I have been running a live weekly video Q+A session in which I invite the Ubuntu community to join me and ask questions about the project, seek clarification on Ubuntu decisions, as well as questions about Open Source, Free Software, technology, and more.

Each session takes place every Wednesday at 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern / 6pm UTC on this website. If you want to ask questions be sure to register with ustream first, you need to log in to type your question. There will be a session today, and I hope to see you there!

I look forward to seeing you at the casts!

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As I mentioned previously, I am working on a second edition of The Art of Community, my book that teaches community leadership and the different skills, challenges, and opportunities therein. The first edition is available under a Creative Commons license (as well as in print form) and designed to be of use to Open Source communities such as the Ubuntu community, so I figure it would be appropriate to share a few updates here and there on my blog.

I am delighted to share that Chris Anderson will be providing the foreword for the book. Chris is the current editor of Wired magazine, winning the National Magazine Award for general excellence three times as part of his tenure. He is also the author of the New York Times best-seller The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. Chris also wrote Free: The Future of a Radical Price and has also been part of The Economist, Nature, and Science. Outside of writing he is actively involved in DIYDrones.

For you Ubuntu fans reading this, Chris is a fan of Ubuntu and interested in the work we are doing to bring Free Software to the masses. I think Chris will bring a strong sense of credibility to the art and science of community management outlined in the book.

You can keep up to date about the book on the website and by following @artofcommunity.

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As some of you might remember, I have expressed concerns at times about the physical health of some folks in our community. Some of us are overweight, spend too much time in front of a computer, have less-than-stellar diets, get little exercise, and boast about drinking too much caffeine. While I am not a health nut, and I am not trying to turn everyone into a health nut, I sometimes worry about the physical health of folks in our different communities. I want people to contribute to Free Software, but would never want them to develop unhealthy habits in doing so.

I feel really fortunate in this regard in that my wife, Erica, is a health nut. Before I met her, I used to eat like crap, rarely exercised, and I didn’t really know a lot about health and nutrition. I didn’t know a lot because I didn’t want to know a lot. Some of you may be aware that Iam a fairly social animal, and I didn’t want to be eating salads and sipping on tonic water whenever I was socializing. I am happy to be healthy, but I didn’t want to live a miserable life in the pursuit of it.

Ever since I met Erica, she has taught me heaps about how to stay healthy. It turns out that you can eat tasty food, have a good time socially, and still be healthy by just knowing a little bit more about what your options are. This is one of the many reasons I am so glad I met Erica, she not only gives me a reason to stay in shape, but she has also explained how to do it.

As such, I keep an eye on what I eat during the week, and try to eat below 2000 calories a day, I try to work out at least three times a week (a combination of metal drumming and an elliptical trainer), and try to do ten minutes of ab workout each day. At the weekend I throw caution to the wind, eat what I like, and don’t worry about working out.

Having visibility and measurements is useful when doing this. Knowing how many calories are in different foods and weighing yourself is handy, but there is another really interesting way.

The FitBit

While at OSCON this week, Erica and I got chatting to a friend about the FitBit. The FitBit is simple; it is a tiny device that looks like a clip that you clip onto yourself during the day and when you sleep. The little thing measures a stack of things:

  • how many steps you take each day and when.
  • how far in total you have walked.
  • how many calories you have burned.
  • how long you have slept and how often you wake up, giving you a good idea of the quality of your sleep.

Our friend is an enthusiastic user, so we bought a few.

I have only been using it for a day or so now, but it is really interesting. The way it works is that there is a small base station that you plug into your USB port and the little FitBit clip regularly sends it’s data to the base station, which then uploads it to the FitBit website. The website has a stack of different metrics and data analysis tools and you can use it to track your calorie intake, exercise and other additional elements. It provides a complete overview of your health, and your FitBit clip automatically updates it with what you are doing.

Supporting Linux

I think it is a neat idea. There are though a few wrinkles for Open Source fans such as ourselves. Unfortunately, there is no Linux client for FitBit to allow you to update the site from Linux. I did though find that a guy is working on a tool called libfitbit and he has some code in GitHub.

He says about 90% of the tool is feature complete in terms of updating the site with your details, but he has been side-tracked with other work to finish it. He also says that the current libfitbit is written as more of a proof of concept in Python, and he would like to re-write it in C. This would then provide a means to get the data off the FitBit clip and feed it to applications.

This got me thinking. Firstly, I would love to see FitBit fully supported in Linux. I would love to see it packaged, and whenever the data is sent to the site, a little notification bubble lets you know it was successfully transmitted. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Going back to my previous points about worrying if members of out community are getting unhealthy, I think the FitBit could be an awesome motivational tool to help geeks get fit. What do we like to do as geeks? We like to know about numbers, and metrics, and details, and the FitBit can help us to hack our health.

I could see all kinds of potential here. People could write Free Software apps that are based on FitBit data (imagine all the potential graphing, and health programme management apps), we could have an Ubuntu/Fedora/GNOME/KDE health community in which we have competitions for who works out the most on a given week, we could hold charity walks (imagine hooking FitBit up to Kickstarter to generate revenue based on how far you walk), and people could work together to motivate each other to stay trim. Essentially, we could crowd-source the idea of getting healthy, and base it on automated data from the FitBit.

I just wanted to throw out some of these thoughts and see if anyone is interested. The first step would be a C implementation of libfitbit, and I have reached out to current author to see if he is interested in making one. Would anyone be interested in helping him? If that happens would anyone be willing to volunteer to package it for Debian/Ubuntu/Fedora?

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My brother, Martin, is working hard right now to prepare to set a new Guinness world record for the fastest land speed record for a car powered by coffee. Crazy, yes, awesome, definitely. I am so proud of him, my nephews, and the rest of the team. What’s better is that the car looks like something from Back To The Future.

They are going to have a first test attempt on the 10th August 2011 at Elvington Race Track near York, and the main record attempt will be on the 14th September 2011.

Be sure to check their website at and follow them on Twitter; they are posting videos about the technology and prep going into smashing this record. You can also donate to help them nail the record.

Here is a video introducing the car, starring the considerably-less-handsome-considerably-more-bearded brother in question.

Can’t see it? Click here

I am so proud of all of them, so be sure to follow them and track this awesome record attempt!

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In August 2009, my book, The Art of Community was published. After a rigorous writing schedule I was delighted to see it finally hit the (real and e-) bookshelves.

As part of the agreement with O’Reilly, I was keen for the book to be released in both print form and under a free Creative Commons license, and O’Reilly happily agreed (they have been releasing many of their books for free for many years). I believe that community management and best practice should be available to all, and not just those with a wallet full of notes, and I can’t think of a better publisher to support this ethos.

If trying to write a great book about your profession was not worrying enough, the really worrying period came next. Would people like it, and would it help them build communities? I wanted to ensure everyone who believed in the book were satisfied when it finally came out.

I worried myself senseless.

This guy got it and likes to read it in front of webcams,

Fortunately, the reception was really quite positive. It was rated #2 in the Top 10 must-have social media books by Mashable, received favourable reviews in the press, and has netted 4 1/2 stars on Amazon USA and Amazon UK, and 4 stars on Amazon Canada. It started being referred to as the leading book on community management and spawned translated editions in Japanese and other languages.

Naturally I was stoked with the reception. Fortunately, the book has sold decently, showing O’Reilly that the Creative Commons approach is good for business, and also that people will indeed buy print copies of media they could get for free. Thankyou to everyone who bought or download the book, and thankyou for your support.

The Second Edition

I few weeks ago I tweeted:

Getting the itch to write a 2nd edition of The Art of Community – would you folks be interested in it? #artofcommunity #oreilly #community

After an eager response I contacted the always awesome Andy Oram from O’Reilly (who was responsible for the first edition happening), and he was interested. I fleshed out some plans, put together a proposal and sent it over. Last week it got approved and this week we finalized the contract.

So, I am delighted to announce that I have started work on a second edition of The Art of Community. I can’t confirm a publishing date yet, but stay tuned.

Keeping Up To Date

Speaking of staying tuned, like with the first edition, I will be blogging throughout the writing process and providing plenty of updates, news, competitions, and features as it continues. You can keep up to date on the official blog, by following the brand new @artofcommunity on Twitter, and on the Facebook page.

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This weekend is the Community Leadership Summit 2011; an annual event designed to bring together community leaders and managers to share best practice, ideas, and solutions. The event is entirely free and takes place from 23rd – 24th July 2011 in Portland, Oregon. The event takes place the weekend immediately before OSCON in the same venue, the Oregon Convention Center.

Over 320 people have already registered from a diverse range of organizations including Mozilla, O’Reilly Media, Rackspace, Adobe, Partimus, Red Hat, Google, Portland State University, Open Affairs Television, Apache Software Foundation, Xen, Digium, IBM, Microsoft, CloudCamp, OpenSesame, Oregon State University Open Source Lab, Wikia, Eucalytpus, MySQL, MeeGo, Linaro, Oracle, Linux New Media, BitNami, SUSE, setiQuest, Webtrends, Alfresco, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, Open Source Bridge, OpenStack, Joomla!, Peace Markets, Infinity Curve,, TYPO3 Association, and many more.

If you are interested in community and building great community for your organization or project, be sure to come and join us. The event is an unconference, and as such the content and topics are driven by the attendees, which has resulted in a rich set of content and great best practice shared across many different disciplines.

I also want to offer my thanks to O’Reilly, Oracle, OpenStack, Ohloh, Google, and Microsoft for helping to support the event!

Interesting In Coming? Simple. Just go and register (it is free) and feel free to share some session ideas that you may want to see or run at CLS11.

Friday Night

To kick off CLS we will be having an informal get-together at 7.30pm at:

Spirit of 77,
500 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232

(503) 232-9977

We look forward to seeing you there!

Scheduling Sessions

The CLS is an unconference, meaning everyone is welcome to volunteer a session while there. We start with a blank slate and then the audience put sessions up.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, everyone who runs a session will get a free copy of my book, The Art of Community as a thankyou for running a session.

If you are interested in running a session, we would love to see you plan your session with other attendees. To do go to the CLS11 Wiki and share session ideas and lightning talks for the event. Everyone is welcome to share ideas!

Spreading The Word

CLS11 is shaping up to be an awesome event, but we could always do with more awareness so as many people can come along and meet people and learn and share ideas. Some ways in which you can help:

  • Tweet about the event and be sure to use the #cls11 hash tag.
  • Join the Facebook Event for further updates.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

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Every cycle we organize the Ubuntu Global Jam; an event in which our global community gets together in their local area to help make Ubuntu better. The Ubuntu Global Jam is a great opportunity to get together and meet other Ubuntu fans and contributors, make new friends in your area, and help to make the next Ubuntu release the best it can be so we can bring Free Software to the masses.

We have done a few Ubuntu Global Jams before, but for this one I want to see if we can outdo every other jam. I believe that if we come together as a community we could organize more events than ever before. If I recall, our record has been 60 events, but I think we can beat that. To do this though, we all need to organize events.

Today I talked with Randall Ross who has helped to coordinate the awesome Ubuntu Community Week this week, and he has the bit between his teeth to help drive this to success too. Randall, combined with the awesome LoCo Council and other LoCo leaders are determined to help the community get as many events organized as possible.

So, I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that the date of the Ubuntu Global Jam is 2nd – 4th September 2011. I am really keen that everyone has as much notice as possible to get your events ready!

The Key Global Jam Points

There is sometimes a little uncertainty about organizing and participating in Ubuntu Global Jam events. Let’s get some clarity on that right now:

  • Everyone is welcomeanyone is welcome to organize or join an Ubuntu Global Jam event. To organize an event, you just have to be in an Ubuntu LoCo Team.
  • You don’t have to be technical – Ubuntu Global Jam events attract lots of different people, and you don’t have to be a developer or technical to take part. Everyone is able to contribute to the events.
  • Events are easy to organize – all you need to do is pick a place to meet up on, agree on a date and time, and tell others about it. That’s it!
  • All LoCo teams are welcome – you don’t have to be an approved LoCo team to organize an event – any LoCo team is welcome!
  • We need everyone to participate – we need you! While we have many rocking folks in our community, we are looking for the teams who have never organized an event before to participate too!

How to organize an event

Organizing an event is simple!

  1. Check out this guide to organizing an event.
  2. Go and add your event to the LoCo Team Portal.
  3. Be sure to tweet/dent/facebook it and use the #ugj, #ubuntu, and #locoteams tags so others can see them!

To get the ball rolling, I am going to be dedicating a chunk of my videocast on Wednesday at 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern / 7pm UTC to discussing how to get involved organizing an event, and answering questions about running events. Be there and join in the fun!

So far we have 6 events organized. Let’s get that number up. :-)

This is going to be an awesome Ubuntu Global Jam, I can feel it. Let’s make it happen, friends. :-)

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The Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) is the most important event in the Ubuntu calendar. It is where we get together to discuss, design, and plan the next version of Ubuntu; in this case the very important Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support (LTS) release.

The next UDS takes place at The Caribe Royal, Orlando, Florida, USA from the 31st Oct – 4th Nov 2011. You can find out more about why UDS is interesting from the perspective of a member of the community, an upstream contributor, and a vendor. We also welcome everyone to participate remotely if you can’t attend the event in person. More more details on how to get there, see this page.

At the heart of a great UDS is a diverse group of attendees who can bring their experience and expertise to the discussions. You don’t have to be technical, or be a programmer or packager to attend – UDS is open to everyone (including non-Ubuntu folks) and free to attend. We encourage everyone with an interest in Ubuntu to attend.


For every UDS Canonical sponsors the hotel and accommodation of a set of community members to ensure they are free to contribute and bring value to the discussions. We have a limited budget so we can’t sponsor everyone, but we are always keen to have a capable and diverse group to sponsor:

  • We strive to support community members who are actively involved in Ubuntu and who are providing significant and sustained contributions to the Ubuntu project.
  • We always welcome Upstream contributors who are bring value to Ubuntu indirectly via active participation in their upstream project, but who are keen to see quality support for that upstream in Ubuntu.
  • Contributors are willing to actively participate not only throughout the full Ubuntu Developer Summit week, but also following with active contributions throughout the release cycle.
  • We are always keen to welcome members of the community who have never been to UDS before and are keen to participate and experience the event.
  • You don’t have to provide technical contributions to apply – if you have participated in the areas of advocacy, documentation, testing, art, design etc, you are encouraged to apply.
  • UDS is an event that encourages diversity – we welcome everyone to apply for sponsorship, irrespective of gender, race, impairment, technical expertise, or other factors.

If you are participating in the Ubuntu community, we would love you to apply for sponsorship. This is how it works:

  1. You can apply for sponsorship by following these instructions. Apologies for the different forms you need to fill in – we are going to consolidate these forms at the next UDS. The deadline for submissions is Wed 24th August 2011 so be sure to get yours in!
  2. When the deadline is reached we will assess the applications and finalize who we will be able to sponsor.
  3. You will then receive an email outlining whether we can sponsor you or not.

Simple! I look forward to seeing your applications, and seeing many of you in Florida!

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I am an Evolution user. While people seem to rag on Evo, I quite like it. In Oneiric though there has been discussion about switching to Thunderbird. I have always been a firm believer in eating your own dogfood where possible, so I decided to start using Thunderbird this week when I upgraded to Oneiric.

Overall everything is looking good so far, but I wanted to summarize some feedback about Thunderbird, as well as some news about Thunderbird’s integration into Ubuntu.


Overall I like Thunderbird. I used to be a Thunderbird user but moved away due to better desktop integration in Evolution. Some initial feedback:

  • Thunderbird now integrates with the Messaging Menu and the Unity launcher. At first this didn’t work, but with a bit of debugging help from Chris Coulson (the legend who is doing a lot of this integration work), he found the bug and rolled a fix which will land in Oneiric shortly. If this didn’t work for you, it should work when you upgrade your Oneiric.
  • I cannot stand the Global Search. It doesn’t ever net usable results. As an example, I did a search for Andy Oram today, who I have been chatting with recently, and I clicked to sort the results by date. It didn’t find the thread from the last few days, which was not good. It turns out there are really two search paths: the Global Search, and the search for filtering the messages, which acts like a more traditional email search like the one in Evolution. If this Global Search is not improved, I would recommend it be switched off in the default Thunderbird installation in Ubuntu (bug report)
  • When sending a message a window pops up to say the message is being sent – this is pretty distracting and interrupts the flow of working with your email (bug report).
  • Fonts seem too small (particularly the message font) and there are also still some quirks when it comes to configuring fonts and Thunderbird remembering what you configured (bug report).
  • The notifications integration is nice and shows you a little about what message arrived. It is also nice to not see that hulking great big Thunderbird notification appear in the lower right-hand corner. :-)

Coming Work

I talked to Chris today about some of the future work and missing integration pieces. Here are some of the goals:

  • Work is going on to integrate the Lightning extension for calendar integration into Thunderbird. This will bring the feature-set more on par with Evolution. Last time I tried Lightning it was quite young in it’s development, so I am keen to see how this works.
  • Chris is working on the Evolution Data Server integration; this would provide better integration into the desktop, so for example, you events will appear in calendar indicator.
  • Thunderbird looks less integrated today at a theming level, but Chris showed me some of the mock-ups for theming improvments being worked on by Andreas:

  • Overlay Scrollbar support is on the nice-to-have list for the 11.10 release. IF you are interested in helping with this, do let me know.

Overall, things are looking good and with these integration components complete, the Thunderbird experience should be pretty rocking in Ubuntu. I can’t wait to see it evolve over the coming months!

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