UDS Sessions attended today

Free Software, Games, Jonathan, Politics 1 Comment »

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The sessions are quite short, most of them just under an hour which works quite well, most sessions have follow-up sessions planned. Refer to http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-karmic/ for further details.

Improving LoCo Team Events

This was the first session I attended today. We discussed package and bug jams and how it could be improved. Also the possibility of introducing marketing jams where users would get together to produce local marketing content such as posters, CD covers, etc in local languages. A requirement was identified for a Facebook-like events engine. Currently loco-teams are finding Facebook a handy tool for this, and something similar may be included in Launchpad for all Ubuntu related events based on the current sprints scheduler. The community directory is 98% complete, Jono will provide us with more details soon when it’s just about complete.

Refocusing The Ubuntu Spirit

This was mostly a discussion that went into various different directions. The Ubuntu Code of Conduct came up and it was discussed how new users sometimes are a bit too diligent trying to enforce it on everyone else in the community. It was agreed that the CoC is a guideline on how people should conduct themselves and that it shouldn’t be used to through books at people, so to speak. Keeping users and developers motivated was also discussed, and the possibility of some kind of showcase of success stories from users around the world.

Free Culture in Ubuntu

Getting free culture on the Ubuntu discs is hard due to the lack of free space. Free culture could be provided in Ubuntu via links and default subscriptions in Firefox, Liferea, Miro etc.

Tutorial on Upstart and How to Convert to it

Scott James Remnant did an introduction on Upstart. Upstart replaces Init on Ubuntu and migration for all init scripts to Upstart is planned for Karmic. Upstart is quite nifty and replaces lots of duplicate and error-prone work that package maintainers had to implement in init before. You can specify environment variables or put entire scripts into the sections before, during and after a process is started. Upstart also keeps an eye on the list of PID’s that it spawned and won’t break when a user does something like execute “apache2ctl stop”.

Meet Your Users

This was a workshop/discussion about personas, archetypes and stereotypes and how personas are used to define the edges of our user universe. We wrote down who we think our users are and they were posted up the board and sorted in to different groups. I think this was the first BoF I’ve ever attended that was led by a women. Speaking of which, there are much more women attending this UDS than previously. One of the results seem to be that there’s some more attention given to some of the more softer issues in Ubuntu. Hopefully it also means that our community has built a good reputation of being welcomming and mature.

Edubuntu Session Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 9:00 UTC (11:00 in Barcelona) we’re having the Edubuntu session where we’ll discuss the Edubuntu stategy document, it’s been in draft for a while and we will hopefully have it finilized very soon (maube even tomorrow if we’re lucky). Some people couldn’t make it, so we’ll try to keep #edubuntu in sync with discussions if the Internet holds up.

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What is dented!?

Free Software 9 Comments »

Recently, when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while, the number one question I’m asked is “What is dented!?”

I then wonder for just a split second what they mean and then I realise they’ve seen it on my Facebook statusses:


Before I can explain what “dented” means, I should explain the concept of Microblogging. Twitter is probably the most biggest and most widely known microblogging service. The idea is that people post short status updates (140 characters or less) called “tweets”. When millions of users post their tweets, it starts to resemble an on-line version of a tree full of birds making a lot of short noises. When you look at the big picture, and look at what the current top tweets are, it becomes a powerful tool to track trends and to find out what’s going on in the world. Twitter also supports tags and groups, which provides more functionality in terms of tracking tweets and finding other users.


Twitter became imensely popular, and it’s one of the biggest social networking sites on the Internet today. Following its success is Laconica, which is completely open source microblogging platform software. The first major site to implement a Laconi.ca site is Identi.ca. Initially, users called their messages “tweets” just like you do in Twitter, but then some clever users started to call their messages dents, they also often say “I dent!” when someone makes a Twitter reference (where “I dent” is the first 5 letters of identi.ca). Identi.ca is probably the most popular Laconica driven service currently, and it’s widely used by free software advocates.


Karl Fischer has set up another Laconi.ca service specifically for FLOSS (ugh I hate that term) professionals called floss.pro, which provides more focus than Identica.


Other South Africans have also jumped on the bandwagon, the guys at Afrigator have written their own microblogging service called Gatorpeeps. I joined today and tried it out, I think it’s quite well done comparing it to Twitter and considering that it’s still such a new service.


That’s basically the microblogging sites I have accounts on. It would be daunting to update all of them individually, so I use a service called Ping.fm to send the updates to all my microblogging sites. It’s handy when I’m at someone elses computer or a public computer and I want to send a quick update out to all my services.


When I’m using one of my own computers, I run a tool called Gwibber, which fetches the updates from the people I follow, and when I post my updates in Gwibber, it gets syndicated my update to all the tools I use that supports status updates.


In Facebook, I have the Identi.ca application installed, so when Gwibber posts an update to Identi.ca, the application posts it to my Facebook status as well, and that’s where “jonathan dented:” comes from. I hope that clears it up :)

People also do all other kind of things with microblogging. Some people even connect things like washing machines to twitter and let them tweet when they’re done with their jobs: http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/03/washing-machine-hacked-to-tweet-when-the-loads-done-maytag-y/

One person has even managed to tweet his way out of jail: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/04/25/twitter.buck/

Many people are sceptical about microblogging, but as the concept matures, the value and the applications become more apparent.

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Linux Popularity Contest: Facebook Has Spoken

Free Software 13 Comments »

Ubuntu has been quite popular on DistroWatch for a long time now. Currently it is at the number 1 position for hits per day on the site over the last six months, 675 higher than it’s closest competition (OpenSUSE), and that doesn’t even count in the 1563 hits from Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Mythbuntu, Fluxbuntu, Ubuntu Studio and Ubuntu CE.

There’s a nice little Facebook app that’s called “Linux” that proudly displays which distribution you use on your profile page:


It also builds stats of which distributions and desktop environments people use, and which podcasts they listen to:


Once again, Ubuntu outranks them all. What’s even nicer is that Debian is second here. makes my theory feel stronger that all RPM based distros will probably become Debian-based within the next 5 years or so (or die out, unless something superior emerges (no pun intended)). I might be completely wrong… who knows, but, when you look at the trends (got this link from Mark Shuttleworth’s website), and if they continue the way they do, then things certainly don’t look good for the future popularity of RPM based systems:


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Facebook Magazine

Project Mayhem 3 Comments »

A few weeks ago I was in book store (yes, it happens), and noticed that there is even a Facebook magazine these days. What’s even worse is, there are actually people who are willing to pay R119 (~US$15) to read 148 pages of Facebook stuff!!!

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Armchair Theatre is Closing Down

Jonathan, Music, Project Mayhem No Comments »

I had lots of good times at the Independent Armchair Theatre, whether it was challenging my friends to the only sport I ever play (foosball), watching Ferris Beuller’s Day Off with pizza and beer, or rocking out to the likes of All Star Funk Four. I’m quite saddened to have read the following press release, sent to Facebook today:

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been avoiding this press release for about a month now. To cut straight to it, after little more than eight years of existence and an eternity of good times The Armchair has closed.

So that there is no confusion on the matter, this is what has happened:

I bought The Independent Armchair Theatre in March 2005. At the time the business was heavily in debt and about to close. Since then we have fought tooth and nail to not only keep The Armchair going but to make it the best venue for live music that we could offer. But three years later with my debts and stress levels reaching dangerous proportions, and some expensive renovations required in order to meet the city’s noise pollution requirements, I had to take the decision, like my predecessor, to sell the business. However the sale has not gone as planned and so – with The Armchair not able to reopen without the requisite soundproofing and no money to pay for the rental – the time has come to close.

That’s the story. I hope you understand. The Independent Armchair Theatre is one of the finest things to have existed in this city. It embodied loves and dreams. It was place to belong to and that belonged to you. In all the time I owned The Armchair, I never felt that it was really mine. It belonged to everyone. To the fans, the musicians, the promoters, the staff. I was simply the guy at the back holding the rudder. It was our home.

And it was all about the music. When The Armchair started it had quite a mixed line up of film, music, comedy and drama but as the years went on it grew into a venue whose purpose of the soul was to provide for the music of Cape Town and it’s many lovers. In the end it might have been out downfall, but the music was all we have ever cared about and I take comfort in knowing that we never made a decision that didn’t have the music at heart. I would start listing all the sublime moments I had in the place, the bands I saw, the musicians that changed my life, but the list would be too long and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone or anything out. The Armchair was nothing if not a sum of its parts. Plus I’d cry lot.

That’s it. I could write all night but that would just be avoiding the inevitable. And I don’t have enough tissues, toilet paper and sleeves in this place.

Before I go though, some very important thank you’s:

To my parents, who have gone far beyond any reasonable expectations in supporting me and The Armchair. To Jen and Alison – for being totally fucking cool, for weathering the storms and for understanding more than most. Thembi, Angela, Nick, Alex, Timmy and Stuart and to everyone else who worked at The Armchair since it opened – you know who you are and I’m not going to list names because I don’t want to leave anyone out. One huge thanks to Ian James Watson whose value and talent can never be underestimated – if you ever meet this man please buy him as many drinks as possible. And of course Carl, Jess and Chris for coming up with the idea in the first place.

And finally, to anyone who ever set foot in the Armchair. Who made the times and enjoyed the times. The place was there for and because of you.

Till next time.


I’ve sent Gil a message to ask whether the sound-proofing is the biggest barrier to getting the place up and running again, and what it would cost to get it up to standard. I’m sure if it’s not too much money, that the fans of Armchair would be willing to raise some money for it. It does seem that it’s too late for that though, I wish I had the money to buy the place over and take care of it.

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Stig for Facebook president?

Politics No Comments »

Maybe not, but at least he’s more popular than Hillary :)

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Wikia Search

Free Software 3 Comments »

Earlier this week, the Wikia wiki-based search engine launched it’s first public alpha. For a search engine in such an early stage, it’s really quite nice. It’s user maintained, and I like the mini-summaries it provides for your search results. It would be nice if there was a whiteboard for each search result, where users could make quick notes about their search results and findings that would benefit other users.


I also like the URL’s more. “http://re.search.wikia.com/search#ubuntu” looks much less intimidating to users than “http://www.google.com/search?q=ubuntu&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.debian:en-US:unofficial&client=iceweasel-a” or “http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=ubuntu&ei=UTF-8&fr=”.

It also has nifty profile pages for its users/contibutors, which seems similar in some ways to the Facebook profile pages.


While Wikia Search has come a long way in a short time, the actual search content need a lot of work. But if you consider the rate at which Wikipedia is growing, and if Wikia Search only grows half as fast, it might be everyone’s favourite search engine quite soon.

Read more about the Wikia launch on Tectonic.

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