Conservancy Supports Successful Ninth Annual DrupalCamp NJ
byon March 19, 2020
Conservancy is proud to have been able to facilitate DrupalCamp NJ for the second year. In this time when so many events are being cancelled, we have a new appreciation for how crucial the in-person events we've already had are for building the free software community. We're glad we were able to support this event.
"Using Machine Learning to Help with Daily Workflows" Photo by Peter Wolanin, available under the CC.BY.SA 2.0 License
The 9th annual DrupalCamp NJ was held on the campus of Princeton University. Over 300 attendees came over 3 days to discuss and learn about web development and Drupal, a free and open source CMS (GPL v2+). This year had a 17.5% rebound in the main campday attendance due in part to moving the main day to Friday from Saturday. They also expanded the trainings on Thursday to offer more topics and boost attendance. About 27% of the attendees were new to Drupal, which is higher than the past few years. Drupal has seen overall growth recently as version 8 has matured and been adopted especially for academic and enterprise websites and web applications.
For 2020 the DrupalCamp NJ organizers made a concerted effort to increase speaker diversity and also reduce the environmental impact of the event. Before the camp, they committed to having 25% of the sessions have a speaker who identified as underrepresented or a first-time speaker. To make this happen they went beyond past outreach efforts and hired a consultant to reach out to new speakers, as well as advertising the speaking opportunity in newsletters geared towards a diversity-minded audiences. In the end, they exceeded their goals! See more at https://www.drupalcampnj.org/announcements/session-submissions-and-speaker-diversity. Of the 25 accepted sessions, 10 had one or more speakers who self-identified as a woman (40% of total), and 15 had one or more speakers who self-identified with an under-represented group in tech (60% of total). The also camp purchased carbon offsets and planted one tree per attendee, and reduced the number of give-aways likely to be thrown away.
"After party at the chemistry building" Photo by Peter Wolanin, available under the CC.BY.SA 2.0 License
Presentations at the event on Drupal continued to focus on version 8 and the upcoming version 9. The community is still getting comfortable with the technical shifts in version 8 such as a major rewrite to use object oriented programming, dependency management with Composer, integration and dependence on Symfony components, and use of Twig for templating. Other presentation topics included progressive decoupling, voice-based search, machine learning, accessibility, testing, team management, and more. All 25 sessions recordings are available on the DrupalCamp NJ website.
Be sure to save the date for the 2021 DrupalCamp NJ and 10th year for the event! It will be January 21-23 at Princeton University. Follow @drupalcampnj on Mastodon or Twitter for the latest updates!
Conservancy's Remote Work Tools
byon March 17, 2020
Conservancy has been a 100% remote organization for over 5 years and is now a remote organization by design. We are dedicated to empowering users through software freedom and we always use free software tools to do our work wherever possible. As many folks are newly switching to remote work or collaboration as part of "social distancing," it seems like a good time to share the "free as in freedom" tools we use and tell you how they work for us.
Etherpad! It's a Conservancy member project and a handy way to write collaboratively. We use Etherpad all the time when we want to collect notes on something, write news items or blog posts (this post was written in Etherpad!) or co-author something with one of our member projects. We also use them to take notes and minutes in meetings, like our Evaluation Committee meetings and our Board meetings. We have a handy plugin enabled where you can enter your email address and be notified when other people are editing the pad, so that you can jump in when your co-authors are ready. You can use our instance or set up your own.
We all use various clients (Empathy, Pidgin, Conversations) to talk to each other on Conservancy's Jabber server during the work day, both from our desktops and phones. We use group chats to coordinate handing off work, to discuss news items or share links. It's perfect for when you need to talk individually or as a group but don't need to start a big email chain. We use email too, but for less ephemeral conversations.
On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes you need a clear record of a task as it make its way through your organization. That's when Request Tracker (aka RT) is key. We moved a lot of our work to RT around eighteen months ago and it's been fantastic for clarity and productivity, especially when there are several different phases to a shared task.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) may be old school but it's easy to start using it because you don't need an account, and you can use web clients that don't need any setup at all. As a bonus, it's not much of a bandwidth hog, which is especially nice when your connection doesn't have a lot of bandwidth. Plus, you can always swing by our channel to chat with us about software freedom and adjacent topics.
Zulip is another chat service that we and some of our member projects use (our Outreachy organizers, mentors and participants use it, for example). Zulip is more modern by design than IRC, with emojis and reactions built in and does a good job of organizing different discussions. There's email notification when someone is trying to reach you directly, which is nice if you're not always on Zulip. It's also accessible via web or by installing a local client.
Asterisk helps us self-manage several phone lines and teleconference rooms. We hold our daily stand-up on the phone and schedule calls with member projects, volunteers, and contractors throughout the day, in different "rooms."
Mumble is a great tool for holding international phone meetings which can otherwise quickly become expensive for folks outside the hosting country. You set up a room and then everyone connects via the internet through their own machine, preferably with a headset.
Jitsi is a free software video calling tool for when everyone wants to get dressed and see each other. The Outreachy organizers often use this for their meetings and Karen and Bradley use this as a part of their remote Free as in Freedom recording set up. Jitsi is particularly helpful to propose as an alternative when others want to use Zoom. It can be really nice when you want to share screens or when folks want to be able to see each other. You do need a decent internet connection for video calling.
Firefox Send is a handy way to send files to people that's encrypted and that expires after you use it. This is useful so you can avoid using proprietary services that may be collecting information about the files you are sharing with other people. This works even with large files and requires no technical knowledge, local client or account setup to use.
These are weird and uncertain times. Tools are only a small part of making remote work effective. We're in this together and we're happy to talk about the remote work experience with you anytime. In particular, you can join us at 2pm Eastern/6pm UTC on Thursdays in our IRC channel #conservancy on freenode, when we plan to be around to shoot the breeze.
In free software, you're not alone. Starting today, we're scheduling time to chat.
byon March 12, 2020
Given the drastic reduction of travel, cancellation of in-person FOSS events and the many, many folks in the community who are working remotely for the first time, some of us are understandably feeling a little isolated. We at Conservancy know that community is a huge part of software freedom and luckily we already know how to come together remotely.
And so, I'd like to officially invite you to come hang out with Conservancy *virtually*!
Our IRC channel #conservancy on freenode.net is often an active meeting place, where folks already congregate for interesting conversation. Everyone is invited to join that conversation at any time. Starting this week, some of us at Conservancy will make sure to be around on Thursday afternoons at 2pm Eastern/6pm UTC to chat with anyone who is interested. The #conservancy channel is accessible via your IRC client. If you don't already use an IRC client, you can come in through your browser. Just visit this page, and choose a nick (or nickname) and you'll be "in channel."
Folks in the channel often discuss software freedom advocacy, the challenges of maintaining free software, new gadgets and free software licenses and other practical strategies to advance the cause. On Thursday afternoons, no special topic is necessary! Come for advice on remote work, thoughts about events that may or may not be cancelled, post jobs, find a friend for virtual proofreading, or just chit-chat about The Good Place .
I feel so grateful for the free software community, which I think of as my free software family. It's incredibly comforting to know so many people who are passionate about software freedom, and bringing justice and ethics to the technology that pervades our daily lives. We are building solutions to big problems that we can only do by bringing people together from all over the world and all walks of life to collaborate. One of the key sustaining characteristics of this is a strong social network we've formed in the process. When you are involved with free software, you have friends across continents and across time zones. We'll get through this crisis by supporting each other. See you in IRC!
 As always, please be mindful that the folks who are part of our global community different levels of comfort with sexual or religious topics. The channel is moderated and we won't allow anyone to be harassed or subjected to topics that are way outside of appropriate quasi-professional conversation.
Conservancy Activities: March and Beyond
byon February 19, 2020
Open Source 101 is brought to you by the fine folks who put on All Things Open every fall. Deb will be giving a 90 minute workshop at the locally-focused event titled, Software Licensing and Compliance: It’s All About Community on March 3rd, in Columbia, SC. The number of available tickets is limited, but some are still available here.
Denver is keynoting Git Merge where folks will be celebrating Git's 15th Anniversary! He'll be discussing the History & Future of Git. The sixth annual Git Merge will be hosted at The Majestic Downtown in Los Angeles on March 4th. Ticket proceeds will again be donated to the Software Freedom Conservancy. (Thanks!)
Just a few days later, Bradley will be presenting at the Southern California Linux Expo, aka SCaLE, a long-running FOSS community event in Los Angeles on, What'll We Do When FOSS Licenses Jump the Shark?. Join him on Saturday, March 7th.
Denver and Bradley will be at the Conservancy booth at SCaLE! We love seeing supporters and connecting with new software freedom enthusiasts at community-driven events like this one. Helping us greet folks by volunteering at the booth is a great way to support our work. The expo floor will be open from 2:00pm on Friday, March 6 until 2:00pm on Sunday, March 8. Please write to us about when you can help out.
The next Outreachy round is also coming up! In fact, applications for the May to August 2020 round are due February 25 at 4pm UTC. Feel free to share Outreachy's opportunities with interested folks in your network!