What happened at Spring of Code #10? #
Many thanks to Mozilla for hosting the event in their fab venue.
Open Source News #
Marc gives a quick overview of what's news and relevant to the SoC community in the open source world.
- competition deadline (Access Prize)
- open source advocacy groups sites list
- He also mentioned the importance to be open to Agile methodologies for software development and will get a speaker to come talk to us on how he can be used specifically in open source environment. Nigel, who is an Agile coach and runs the London Code Dojo has volunteered to do it.
- Marc talked to the event manager at Hub Westminster who's looking to organise workshops, panel discussions and also a Maker Fair and invite everyone interested to send a proposal
Where we ask people their name, what are they expecting from the group, what are they working on and what is their geek level (all that in less than 30secondes)
- Zack, from Mozilla, interested in what people are working on; he works in website testing (Selenium, web driver, unit testing, etc.), geek level 2
- Deepak: expecting to connect with people, working on his startup about discovering places to go and things to do, which is at v 0.5 - open alpha, geek level 3
- Ivan: web technologies, Android, JS, HTML5
- SleepyFox / Nigel: runs the London code Dojo, also has a startup. Expecting: free beer, and synnergy between Spring of Code and Coder Dojo. Working on huge legacy systems, in banking. Geek level fairly high, he can swear in klingon.
- Mohammed: expecting to work on projects for social change. At the moment interested in alternative higher education models; geek level 2-3
- Michael (Briar): working on security com tool Briar, geek level 3
- Michael: working on secure communications, but in spare time Android apps. Expecting to meet interesting people and contribute where he can to the projects; geek level 3
- Mia: meet new people, work on interesting projects, offer constructive insight, help clarify ideas. Not working, just studying, some CS. Geek level pi.
- Christian: working during the day on e-commerce, banking apps, then gnome outisde work; geek level 1-2.
- Neil: working on Portfolio Fusion, will have an update soon; expectations - hearing about other projects, getting help with PF; geek l: starting to look up slightly, but still 1 for now.
- Takako: just moved here this March; web designer, worked on a visual programming language; geek level 1. Lots of spare time now, so working for visionOnTV.
- Richard: expecting "working code" from SoC. Is working on Open Player and Open Media Network. Geek level today was below 1 but getting higher...
- Ben: working on medical scanning device
Tech presentation #
Hacking together a medical scanning rig for keyhole surgery using Open Source tools by Ben Blundell (@secti0n9)
screen-cast video to come soon!
Ben is a freelance software engineer, specialising in computer graphics, computer vision, physical computing and digital art. He has worked at and collaborated with UCL, The British Library, The University of Manchester, The British Museum and MSA Visuals in the last 2 years.
For more info visit his site: www.section9.co.uk
Project updates #
Problem getting agreement from freecycle organizations for API - they say there's no market, but there's no market because it doesn't exist yet! Why don't you scrape it? Yes - it's an idea but wouldn't a long term solution as we'll have to adapt each time they change their site. Michael is a php developer. Plan is to talk to scavenger about implementing an API. Why are they so secretive? Monetization? Most of them aren't secretive, only Freecycle. Freecycle is a contrast - they have a lot of money, but they stick to yahoo groups, so emails. Scraping that would be challenging! Chat about geo-location - challenges of yahoo groups by region used by Freegle.
Interface is going to be the app, not the backing system. May have to ask user to choose local group. So you might have to arrange pick-up from the yahoo groups themselves.
Portfolio Fusion (by Neil)
Moved to EC2 server - concerto software - all the psychometric content out of google docs and onto the server. Next he needs to code up some apis. Viviki tool which tracks your learning online - tags it up with wikipedia categories.
Name change: Omnifolio. Crowd-sourcing data of psychometrics - opening up the closed data of psychometrics - no cost of serving it, so it's easy to do this - makes it possible for employers to search the database. Service funds itself by employer / employee transaction (offering /taking of a job is charged, but not access or uploading the data. It's like a dating website? - it's the OK Cupid of job market? - no restrcition on questions in OK Cupid, whereas this has the science of psychmetrics. Problem of defensive psychology (Christian).
Open Player (by Richard)
- demo of olympic mashup, embeddable player
- plans to make it customisable by the user, to be able to just paste an rss feed in it
- showing the existing code on github
- will be an open-social gadget, so it will be drag and drop.
- we are nearly at version 1
- proposal for a hackathon, because in one day we could probably do the whole thing. There is a detailed implementation plan and specs but need to get Adrian together with 2 or 3 coders and we could finish it.
Open Media Network
- Illustration about it. 2-way RSS media metadata.
- created user stories, the agile way. Eg. olympics, -2012 tags, automatically updating TV channel, tag your video with proper tag and everyone researching that tag will get it on their player.
- visionOnTV will be an aggregator, and more will be welcome, as quality would vary. Duplicate content is easy to avoid.
- Update: because of the Liferay meetup group, we now have a much better development environment inside our cms.
- Code exists, but could not get articles to display in Liferay.
- ultimately we want torrent hosting, because youtube already restrict videos with ads, for instance. Then videos would be safer. We're been looking at torrent streamers, and they seem to work.
- Q: why liferay? A: We're stuck with it, but also drag and drop functionality that means it takes 5 min to knock together a page. Hackthemedia will be created, and its users are not technically savvy. Q: last company we worked with used Liferay, and Liferay's code is really gnarly, so I wouldn't use it anymore. Would use Drupal, Wordpress.
-Marc: will update to latest version soon. Open Player is more important, and it will work just on its own. Liferay don't commit any developers for the community edition. -Q: that's the sunk-cost fallacy. Don't think that way. -Marc: great direction to take not to be attached to Liferay, but it's too big to start from scratch. Drupal doesn't work to build communities, and wordpress cannot. Only Liferay offers both the scalability and the non-techie friendly functionalities. -Q: notube.tv, funded by the EU, done with BCC, Reuters, etc. -Richard: amazing that no one's done it yet. RSS old technology, but very useful, and we haven't realised its full potential. The way to do this is to exploit tags properly.
Update on Briar (by Michael)
Briar is a secure news and discussion platform that will enable journalists, activists and civil society groups in authoritarian countries to communicate without fear of government interference. Organised a Hackathon at London hackspace, Ivan was there and will help with the Android side. Michael will hire a student over the summer to work on the GUI.
Marc introduce the session's brainstorming: Where next for Spring of code?
Richard takes the role of scrum master. Quick go round then open discussion.
How do we get working code? (faster and better)
- Richard: The mission of the group is to try to reduce the open source wastage, projects redundancy, the "me too" project, unfinished projects.
Nigel: for your group and projects, get ideas from the scrum format: start with what you've achieve, what you are going to do and what are the problems you encountered.
- Mia: Probleme of dayjob, need to have a hook or challenge to make sure they will distribute. It doesn't have to be the ideal of the project. Mapping out all the problems and make the info available, then hopefully geeks can get involved in small bits they can resolved.
- Mihai: It's difficult to get new participants up to date with what has been done. Create social connection for newcomers so it can be easier to get involved.It's really useful to get a mentor.
- Neil: One big tech event where all bring our laptops and code. It will be great to have more project, meaning more knowledge. Let's pick day and make it happen.
- Christian: People don't participate in project because it's open source. I have limited time so if I contribute in a project it has to be relevant to my issues. It's hard to pick up a project, there is no touch point. Having a technology hook. In the 1st 5 minutes I need to take something out of it. List the presentations a bit more precise and make it useful. (example: if you struggle with CMS system advertise it that way on the title).
- Michael: Lots of projects interest me and would be useful to see what libraires and languages are used. Can see the tech meetup use but the social use are not obvious to me.
- Marc: We suffer from an identity problem: All the other active tech communities gather around computer languages or themes that imply learning skills and getting useful info quickly. In each case participants know what they can get from going to a meeting instantly. The spectrum and the format are too large, how do we reduce it and in which direction? Should we rename the project or add a tagline? We also need to change the format of the meeting, featuring only 1 project per session, and possibly a minute updates for the others. Additionally the social session could benefit to have one longer speaker doing a 20-30minutes tech presentation on a subject we know we need to learn more about.
- Ivan: Motivations are hackathon, networks and skills. Having challenge are my main motivation. Have a deadline is really useful.
- Michael (briar): We shouldn't expect the small group of regulars to resolve each others problems. More importantly we should have links with other groups. If we connect to these groups we'll have more skills avaialble.
- Richard: We have a mentor and a good technician but it still hasen't happened because of time. Our problems are more social than technical. When you have an open source project do deadlines count? Other problems: how do we grow? we don't have a critical mass of people.
- Nigel: about deadline, from my experience with apache community: lots of their projects have a deadline but they have a very pragmatic attigtude. You can release anythying you want provided it's been tested and working. The deadline is irrelevant. Coming back to the SoC the reason why a deadline could be efficient is if there is an external deadline (competition, christmas...) not an artificial one like a target you give yourself to make sure things are moving. Don't ask a commitment but a forecast.
- Marc: (question to Nigel) From your Agile Coach experience, what would be a good process to get coders (specially newcomers) to take initiative on a task or join a team?
- Nigel: Stories: group together, slice the functionalities so they can be done within the day, preferably hours. How can we eat an elephant (bit by bit), slice things very small, let the team choose what they want to do,
- Mihai: we do need a community before to organise it
- Nigel: just being able to see what's need to be done is important
- Mia: signposting, listing can get something the reverse effect.
- Nigel: Get inspiration from GTD (getting this done), list with 10 items max
- Neil: Need to consolidate the community with a meeting with regulars before changing the whole process and format of group.
- Christian: 1st simple engeering piece on the software are sometimes more important than cool gadget, it's hard to get people enthusiastic about it.
- Ivan: Newcomers and coders have to deal with documentation problem which is usually all text. We need visualisation tools as well, find component info (not text but be able to see it, where to go)
- Thanks everyone for coming.
- Next event: date and speaker to be announced soon.