Category Archives: advocacy

From elsewhere: Linux: a social experiment

Linux advocate disguised as panhandler gives CDs away. Interesting social results: most people don't read signs, and panhandling is fairly lucrative. <wry grin>

Would be tempted to do something similar if I also had a stack of Ubuntu CDs.

Or—evil thought!—sneak into Microsoft dev event with button that reads "Ask me about what I geek out about" and a bag full of Ubuntu CDs... ;)

(Convert the world one geek at a time! ;) )

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Not the only one

It's great to know that I'm not the only one who thinks loving one's country isn't passe. From a chat with Jijo:

 Hey Sacha! How are things in Canada? I just read your
              entry on coming back home to the Philippines. Very very
              very positive attitude! If more progressive people like
              you (and me!) thought more about what we can do for this
              country than merely what it can do for us, I'm sure it
              wouldn't be in the rut it is now. We have a lot of work
              to do, but as early as now, brava! :)
 Awww... =)
 Things are fine in Canada, although I _really_ need to find
         other Filipinos who care about the Philippines and don't go
         on and on about the Good Life here or say things like "You
         know, I was also patriotic when I was young..."
 Yeah.
 I read the "Walang Kwenta Ang Pilipinas" email that's been going around.
 I couldn't finish it because I found that it just said
              too much of the obvious and the wrong. We all know we're
              in a rut, and just writing about the rut we're in
              doesn't solve things.
 Your blog entry, though short, inspired me. Knowing that
              I have like-minded colleagues like you give me the
              strength to continue standing up for this country,
              amidst the exodus of professionals and the shit that our
              politicians just keep ramming down our throats.
 I hope you find more like-minded people there. The
              feeling of being the only one can be very discouraging.

Ka Edong of Technobiography also wrote, "There's a lot to be done for the Philippines. We do what we can."

Awww. =)

I want to find other Filipinos in Toronto who are passionate about nationbuilding and who believe we can do something even from this distance.

I know people like that can exist outside the country. I mean, if MIT has enough people to start MIT PESO, why not UToronto?

私たちは時間を節約するためにコンピュータを使った。 We used the computer in order to save time.

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Working with Emacs

A recent post on the Philippine Linux Users' Group suggested a separate plug-emacs mailing lists for all the Emacs messages that have popped up recently. The suggester said:

There is a difference between discussion and stroking each other's ego. :)

Working with Emacs is a humbling experience. It brings you face to face with accumulated centuries of developers' work. Emacs involves people in its development to an unusual extent. Working with vi and even Eclipse made me feel more like a user than a co-developer. Working with Emacs made me feel part of the community, even when I was still struggling to make sense of the parentheses.

If in that sense, Emacs worship is considered ego-stroking, then sure, I'm guilty. I can't help but express my appreciation for one of those things that has really changed my life and made free, open source software really meaningful to me. For the culture, really, that made it possible. It's a piece of software, but it's also a conversation with so many developers around the world.

To newbies: if you're curious about the thrills of open source development and you want a nice, easy way to get started, why not try modifying Emacs? It's easy to pick up. All the source code is there, and you can modify it on the fly. We've had complete non-programmers try it out and fall in love with programming. They get thrilled when they share their tweaks and other people respond with comments and suggestions. This is good stuff. Try it out. =)

I suppose Emacs is off-topic. After all, it's cross-platform, not Linux-specific. I could easily be extolling the wonders of Emacs on Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, or BSD. Emacs doesn't require Linux. (Neither does Apache, but you don't see people waxing lyrical about web servers that often, do you?) The flood of Emacs-related posts that deluge the list whenever someone unwittingly brings up the topic is probably incomprehensible to people who've never tried Emacs or tried Emacs as just an editor and didn't like it.

Still, I want to share what makes open source real for me. Not kernel hacking, which is still too intimidating despite the existence of projects like kernel-janitor. Not network or system administration, which I don't have the patience to do. Just the free and flexible customization of something I use everyday and the thrill of sharing these customizations with other people in a community that spans the world.

I guess that's why I post on PLUG instead of plug-misc. I don't think PLUG should just be a venue for asking and answering technical questions, but also for sharing nifty hacks and examples of how far a Linux system can be pushed. Other people push their systems in terms of hardware and services. I push mine in terms of how well it can fit me, how well it can anticipate my needs.

I want to stroke other people's egos. I want people to discover how they can contribute to free and open source software, to experience the thrill of seeing their code out there and being used. Open source development isn't just for PHP wizards or C freaks who can contribute to existing projects or launch an entirely new project on their own. Maybe—just maybe!—people who thought themselves just users of a text editor will be inspired to think about how they can start customizing their own.

コンピュータを使えば時間に節約になる。 Computers will save you a lot of time.

clair ching says:

I can't help but agree with you. Emacs is the way that I appreciated FOSS more compared to GNU/Linux per se. Why? It's because I easily felt part of the community of Emacs users and hackers on the Emacs Wiki. That kind of interaction makes it less scary for newbies, IMHO. I mean, not all people on the Emacs Wiki are very friendly, I suppose, but the ones I have interacted with as I was learning to use various tools and modes available showed me that I can do something for the FOSS community, which is to write about what I learn. I don't even know ELISP but at least I know that my blog entries are helpful to others too. =)

I guess we have been too giddy over Emacs on the PLUG mailing list that is why someone suggested that. Well, I know I have always been giddy about it but I can't help myself! ^_^ Emacs is wonderful...

Besides there are so many hacks in Emacs that make FOSS usage, learning and advocacy so much fun! Like the Planner mode that allows me to somewhat organize my life, my thoughts, my schedule. Eshell allows me to do some things without opening a separate terminal. In Planner, I also store my notes on advocacy and my blog entry drafts. I also listen to music on Emacs. And when something goes wrong on whatever mode I am using, I can email the maintainer immediately, to tell him/her what happened so that the bug can be fixed, etc. I try to be as detailed as possible when I do that. So I guess that is my contribution. =)

In any case, I also enjoy the company of people using Emacs, not just because we talk about Emacs but because I am learning so much about you guys =)

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Fantastic explanation of cost of software

From We Pledge Allegiance to the Penguin:

"Every license for Office plus Windows in Brazil - a country in which 22 million people are starving - means we have to export 60 sacks of soybeans," says Marcelo D'Elia Branco, coordinator of the country's Free Software Project and liaison between the open source community and the national government, now headed by president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. "For the right to use one copy of Office plus Windows for one year or a year and a half, until the next upgrade, we have to till the earth, plant, harvest, and export to the international markets that much soy. When I explain this to farmers, they go nuts."

Now _that's_ a fantastic way to make the cost of software really visible to people. Translate it into tangible stuff!

その猫は私のそばで寝るのが好きだ。 The cat likes to sleep beside me.

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Creating Passionate Users: The importance of seduction and curiosity

"The importance of seduction and curiosity" is another great entry from one of my favorite blogs, Creating Passionate Users. Kathy Sierra writes:

Part of creating passionate users starts with building curiosity. Inspire them to want to learn, know, and do more.

I love making people curious about things, whether it's Emacs, Planner, computer science, or even far-out stuff like street performance.

Kathy Sierra gives these tips:

  1. Be passionately curious yourself.
  2. Be seductive.
  3. Make them curious by doing something unusual, without an obvious explanation.
  4. Offer a puzzle or interesting question... without giving them the solution.
Be passionately curious yourself. Heck yeah. I love learning about things. When people give me feedback on my talk, the first thing that usually comes to their mind is my enthusiasm for the topic. Even when I can't go into a lot of detail about something like Squeak, they pick up on the fact that I think it's really interesting and something worth being curious about. Be seductive. I often do my Planner help that way when the person I'm talking to expresses interest in learning Lisp. I'll take them partway to a solution and leave enough for them to figure things out. Even with the hacks we put together for Planner, there's always that tantalizing glimpse of what _else_ could be possible. Make them curious by doing something unusual, without an obvious explanation. This is why I've taken to starting my Knoppix presentations with a Windows display. ;) Offer a puzzle or interesting question... without giving them the solution. Oooh, still have to figure out how to do this one properly.

Fun.

私は1匹の黒猫がその家へ走り込むのを見た。 I saw a black cat run into the house.

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MSU-IIT student wins IBM Linux Scholar Challenge

http://news.inq7.net/infotech/index.php?index=1&story_id=31491

Filipino software developer wins IBM Linux Scholar tilt

Posted 00:33am (Mla time) Mar 24, 2005 By Erwin Lemuel Oliva INQ7.net

FILIPINO software development talent shines once again.

Jan Stevens Ancajas, a student of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, was among the grand prizewinners of the 2004 IBM Linux Scholars Challenge, INQ7.net learned Wednesday.

Ancajas was among 20 winners from all over the world in the yearly challenge hosted by the computer giant IBM.

The Filipino developer's program entry described as "Dynamic DNS solution for a campus network" was cited as one of the best software programs developed by a student.

This IBM-hosted contest solicits entries from students all over the world. Each winner will receive an IBM ThinkPad T-Series with Linux and will also have the opportunity to qualify for one of the three Summer 2005 internships at the IBM Linux Technology Center.

Wow! =D Congrats!

(Oooooh, envious...)

E-Mail from Miguel A. Paraz

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