Stormy’s Update: Weeks of August 10th, 17th and 24th

This is my update for work done for the GNOME Foundation, reprinted from the GNOME Foundation blog. For a higher level overview for what I do as the Executive Director, see What do I do as Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation?

This update is actually for three weeks, the week of August 10th when I was at OpenSource World, the week of August 17th when I was on vacation and the week of August 24th when I caught up with all the email I got in the previous two weeks!

During the weeks of August 10th and August 24th, in no particular order:

I met with existing sponsor to discuss how to get payment for their GNOME Foundation dues.

I met with a potential new sponsor and pinged a potential sponsor that I've spoken to a couple of times.

Sent out the feedback from the interviews with the advisory board members. (Sent it out to the advisory board and to the GNOME Foundation.)

Attended OpenSource World, ran the Desktop track and spoke. The Desktop track was very well attended with 80-100 people at every session. I really enjoyed the fact that the participants were very engaged and every speaker got lots of questions during and after their session. The opening panel was all questions from the audience. I got a lot of GNOME questions that I have passed on to the right experts.

OSiM World arrangements. Arranged for company working with GNOME technologies to meet with Vincent Untz and Dave Neary while they are there. Several GNOME companies will have booths. Igalia offered to display GNOME Mobile information in their booth. Checking with the others.

Drafted mail with marketing team about raising advisory board fees.

Met
with one of the advisory board members who's offered to mentor us on
finances and got feedback on how to display our financial data. Worked
with Germán Póo-Caamaño to create a waterfall summary of our fiscal year 2009
finances. (Will share soon.)

Did a short interview on women in opensource with Rikki Kite for her series on women in open source – suggested some more GNOME women for her to interview too.

In general I've been working on attending and giving less talks myself and getting more GNOME folks involved. I've passed on several speaking opportunities to other GNOME people. If you are available to speak on GNOME topics please add yourself to GNOME speakers page so people can find you. (Feel free to nominate other people you think should be on that page – at least their name and what talk you saw them give.) If you are speaking about GNOME technologies or attending a talk on GNOME, please make sure it's in our calendars, both the wiki and the Google calendar.

GNOME press team was announced.

Took a week of vacation. We went camping for a few days (climbed the biggest sand hill ever and slid down it with my 9 year old), had my parents over for a few days (still trying to talk them into moving to Colorado), threw a couple of parties (a wine tasting party and a kid's birthday party – not at the same time), cleaned the fridge, freezer and bathroom cabinets, caught up on bills.

Editorial reviews or ratings by the masses?

I was in another city's library the other day and read the first few pages of Say Anything. It looked interesting so when I got home, I looked it up on Amazon – I no longer acquire a book without first checking ratings on Amazon.

Say Anything is obviously not a popular book. First I had a hard time finding it as Amazon assumed I really wanted to know about lots of other movies and books with "Say Anything" in the titles. Then the rating … it only rated 3 stars. A book which only rated 3 stars is one I'd usually pass on. I've got several hundred to read on my list that all rate much higher. But then I saw it only had 4 reviews (which reinforced the fact that it's not a popular book) so I scrolled further down … and noticed that it had some very respectable editorial reviewers like Seth Godin, Craig Newmark, Lisa Stone and Howard Rheingold. I puzzled it over for a while and then went back and reread the editorial reviews – and realized that with one exception, none of the seven editorial reviewers said anything great about the book. And obviously they didn't all take the time to go to Amazon and rate the book to help out the author.

I've added Say Everything
to my Paperbackswap wish list and if I read it, I'll let you know how it goes, but for now I'm going to continue to trust the ratings by the masses or what my friends recommend, not the number or caliber of editorial reviewers.

What do you think? What do you pay attention to when deciding to read a book or not?

My Grandpa: An Outstanding Record in Hauling Live Stock

GrandpaAwardNewspaper In 1945 my grandpa received a citation for an outstanding record in hauling live stock by truck to the Sioux Falls Market. (It's the emblem on his truck in the background of the picture.)

I was excited to find this 64 year old article and the letter that accompanied it not only for the glimpse into a part of my grandpa that I never knew, but also because my grandma had deemed it worthy of keeping. (And my grandma could have taught classes on clutter free living.)

By the time I was old enough to remember my grandpa, alcoholism and emphysema had taken their toll. He spent most of his time at home leaning on the banister at the top of the stairs. He usually had a moment for us kids – either to complain that we were running through the house or to stop us and tease us – and to tell us that the sandbox behind the house was his. (The sandbox wasn't his I discovered. Although I staunchly defended my grandpa's claim to the sandbox, it belonged to the neighbor kid. The neighbor kid and I settled the sandbox dispute with an agreement. I agreed to play toy soldiers – my first and last game ever – in exchange for a game of tag and we quickly became friends, running around the neighborhood playing made up games that enlisted all the kids we could find. Grandpa teased me about that as well.)

There's one memory of Grandpa that made an impact on my adult life. One of my older cousins brought her infant daughter by to visit. When my grandpa held the baby, his whole face lit up. The baby was soon snatched away from him but I promised myself that when I had a baby I'd bring him by for Grandpa to hold. Unfortunately Grandpa died 22 years before that could happen, but every time I visit a nursing home – with my dog before and now occasionally with my kids – and watch people's faces light up, I remember that promise.

What would you ask these guys about the desktop?

Tomorrow I'm also moderating a panel at OpenSource World, The State of Installed Desktops and Netbooks 2009.

What would you ask these guys?
 

  • Todd Finch, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Dell
  • Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier, Community Manager, Novell
  • Jono Bacon, Community Manager, Canonical
  • Rao Yeleswarapu, Marketing Manager for Moblin, Intel 

As a reminder:

  • Intel, a hardware company, recently launched Moblin, a software project that offers a whole new user interface for computing on netbooks.
  • Dell is one of first to offer Linux preinstalled on PCs and laptops.
  • Novell has employees using Linux desktops internally and offers it to customers.
  • Canonical has been working with different companies customizing the desktop to meet their customer needs.

So what would you ask them?

The Desktop or the Browser: Is the Netbook Escalating the Battle?

Wednesday I'll be speaking at OpenSource World on The Desktop or the Browser: Is the Netbook Escalating the Battle?

One of the things that has worried me is how people are living more and more in their browser. I myself am guilty of this. I use the browser to check my mail, calendar, read news, track my todo list, check my bank account, check on friends, upload pictures …

People doing everything in their browser scares me not because I think everyone should use the desktop but rather because I don't think the browser is the best user tool for doing all those things.

I think the browser is great. I use it all day, every day. But by limiting ourselves to the browser, we are limiting our user experience and the power of the desktop. I think Fabrizio Capobianco stated it really well in his post A World without the Browser:

I haven't seen one single implementation of a browser on a mobile
device that actually makes the experience good (not great). […] Clicking is a pain.
Zooming and panning is a super-pain. You click when you want to scroll.
You yell.

[…]

Now
let's talk about Mobile Apps. They are built for interaction without a
mouse. With one finger (the other hand holding the device). They are
quick, immediate, intuitive, interactive.

If I have to choose
between checking the weather on my PC or on my iPhone, what do I
choose? The iPhone. One click. Done. I do not have to sit, open the
browser, click and re-click and maybe even type my zip code. It is
there when I need it.

Applications running natively on the desktop can provide a much better user experience than running an application inside a browser on top of the desktop. Mobile devices like phone and netbooks may make this obvious but the same holds true for a full size desktop.

If you use Twitter or Identica, do you use the web page interface or do you use Gwibber or Thwirl or Twidroid? (If you said the web page interface, I strongly recommend you try one of the apps as you are missing out.)

Devices with small screens will ultimately make the desktop experience better for everyone but only if we deliver applications that make the experience better. A desktop and a browser are not enough. "Web applications" that you access through the browser are not enough. We need applications that take advantage of the power the desktop has to offer.

How long does it take to be an expert?

Photo by Scott Ableman

Photo by Scott Ableman

Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. He looked at professional hockey players, pianists and composers and said in each case it took them 10,000 hours of practice to get really good.

I’ve always thought practice was more important than talent – I think it looks like you have talent when you like something so much you spend hours and hours on it. The kid that loves baseball, plays every chance he gets and practices on his own. That kid gets good. How good he gets might depend on talent, but either way, he’ll get good.

In Outliers, a book I just started listening to, Malcolm says people have talent but without the 10,000 hours of practice, we’ll never see it.

So how much is 10,000 hours?

At an hour a day, that’s 27 years. At 3 hours a day, it’s still close to 10 years. What do you do for 3 hours a day? If you are like most of us, the only thing you do for 3 hours a day, day in and day out, is something you are paid to do. (So make your job something you enjoy doing!) Although I’d guess there are some free software developers out there who put in a lot of hours “practicing” coding every week regardless of whether they get paid for it.

How long does it take someone with a job to get really good at it? Say you got a job writing code – and you’ve never written code before – and you actually get to code 40 hours a week. (40 hours of coding, not email or meetings.) And you only took two weeks of vacation a year. After 5 years, you would have the potential to be an expert developer. (In the book, Malcolm talks about how people like Bill Gates and Bill Joy got their coding experience – he thinks experts are people that got the opportunity to practice 10,000 hours.)

So next time you admire someone for their skills and say “I could never do that” – stop and think. Did you give it the 10,000 hours?

Stormy’s Update: Week of August 3rd

This is my update for work done for the GNOME Foundation, reprinted from the GNOME Foundation blog. For a higher level overview for what I do as the Executive Director, see What do I do as Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation?

Worked on the quarterly report.Got 11 updates out of the 15 we'd like to include. (And if I forgot a team, please let me know!!) Working on two more with the team leads. Waiting on two additional ones. Editing them and working with Paul Cutler and Vinicius Depizzol on the layout.

Wrote final draft of the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit press release. Vincent and Cornelius released it.

Met with the GNOME Asia Summit planning committee. Good stuff happening there but I'll wait for them to announce …

Recruited
Denise Walters to help with GNOME marketing, in particular the customer
success stories. I know Denise from HP where she worked on Linux and
open source marketing.

Summarized the information I got while
interviewing all the advisory board members and sent it out to the
advisory board members. Will send out to the GNOME Foundation list on Tuesday.

Created
a very rough place holder of a wiki page for the new GNOME press team
we'd like to create. (I realized I didn't really know what to put in
the page – hopefully people will ask questions which will make it
obvious to me what's missing.)

Had a short interview with Todd Wiess, a free lance reporter for an article he was writing about whether the economy is affecting free software projects.
What was interesting is that he thought laid off people would have less
time to work on free software while they looked for a job whereas I
would have thought they'd have more until they found a job. (While
looking for a job is a full time job, few people who like coding like
all the stuff involved with finding a job, so I'd think they'd need a
coding break!)

Finalized 401K plan! Sent signed documents off to SocialK folks.

Booked travel for Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference and Utah Open Source Conference – both events are covering my travel.

Sent a thank you note to all the Desktop Summit sponsors with links to press about the Desktop Summit. (Press links compiled by Dave Neary.)

Got the Zoom2's from Texas Instruments for our usability study! Talking to folks about how to move forward.

Sent thank you notes to those that donated through Friends of GNOME. Personalized them where I could.

What I'm planning on doing this week:

This week I'll be at OpenSource World, running the desktop track, moderating a panel and giving a talk the Desktop or the Browser: Is the Netbook Escalating the Issue? (Plus I still have to create the talk and slides.)

The following week (August 17th) between a camping trip and my parents coming into town, I will probably take some time off.

Here's my list of things I'll work on in between those events: (Things that are missing from the list have been passed on to somebody else or are in progress.)

  • Get the 2009 Q2 Quarterly report published!
  • Advisory board/sponsors work:
    • get feedback from advisory board members on advisory
      board meeting at GUADEC (I think I'm going to need to ping them
      individually.)
    • get agreement signed by GNOME folks for the work
      Canonical is funding on bugzilla for GNOME (Missing one signature –
      from the sys admin team.)
    • Amazon mp3 download uses GTK – contact them about sponsorship
    • send finance update out to advisory board (I’ll be doing this once a month.)
  • Marketing team stuff
    • Start marketing list thread about raising advisory board fees and the communication around that
    • Update GNOME marketing wiki
      pages with Paul Cutler
    • Get the press team created and started
    • find someone to help create a GNOME slideset template
    • write up blurbs about why companies sponsor GNOME (or
      find people to help) – for our website (Maybe someone would like to
      help with sponsors?)GNOME Foundation sponsorship plan like premium sponsorship – put in wiki
  • blog about travel committee – they did an excellent job with the Desktop Summit
  • Partnerships:
    • Talk to Jim Zemlin about Moblin & Linux Foundation and relationship to GNOME Foundation
    • follow up with OIN – they list GNOME as a partner
  • Recruit others to help:
    • Figure out how to get a team started to get GNOME working more closely with governments.
    • find someone who can help create a list of
      recommended desktop apps that OpenLogic would put in their library for
      enterprise customers
    • Follow up with someone who had ideas for a GNOME project and wanted to know how to go about it
    • Automate things. In past lives I've found the best way to get tedious tasks automated is to give them to someone who (a) finds them tedious and (b) has the skills to automate them. Tasks that I think could be improved somehow by automation: (Let me know if you fit (a) and (b) and would like to give them a try.
      • Getting Friends of GNOME names onto the website.
      • Sending thank you notes to Friends of GNOME. (Could be done by CRM.)
      • Getting Friends of GNOME data into gnucash. (One of the board members is looking at this.)
      • Scrubbing confidential Friends of GNOME data from gnucash so we can publish the gnucash file.
      • Reimbursing contributors whose travel we pay. (While the travel committee is helping with receipts and reminders, it still takes Rosanna 20 minutes per wire transfer to transfer money to someone. That means it takes her several weeks of work time to reimburse everyone for GUADEC travel. Every year.)
      • Putting feedback we get through Friends of GNOME onto a website.
  • follow up with sys admin team about installing a CRM
    system for the GNOME Foundation (It would really help the board,
    Rosanna, myself and others working on contacts, sponsors and finances.) Dave Neary offered to install a CRM for us, so this might be more about picking the right one now.
  • follow up with the sys admin team on setting up
    better analytics for gnome.org so marketing can make better plans.
    (They are working on this one.)
  • follow up with International Cooperation group from
    the university where the Desktop Summit was housed (They’d like to work
    with us to promote free software in developing countries.)
  • Create policies for the GNOME Foundation to comply with new US nonprofit regulations. (Things like conflict of interest, travel, whistle blower, compensation and records retention.)

Stormy’s Update: Week of July 27th

This is my update for work done for the GNOME Foundation, reprinted from the GNOME Foundation blog. For a higher level overview for what I do as the Executive Director, see What do I do as Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation?

The GNOME Accessibility team will be using some of their earmarked funds to have a booth at 2010 CSUN – set up by Eitan Isaacson. I think this is great as it's a way to reach users who may not already be using a free desktop. Accessibility is an area we are good at and an area our sponsors are willing to invest in, so we should leverage that strength to bring the benefits of the free desktop to more people.

Requested status reports from teams for the 2009 Q2 quarterly report and have 8 of 14 of them on time! With two more promised today. (Which considering this was the first time we've done this and I didn't give them very much warning at all, is awesome!) Got updates from the Bugsquad, localization team, GNOME Marketing, web team, usability team, GNOME Accessibility, documentation team and art team. Missing updates from the release team (promised), sysadmin team (promised), GNOME Mobile, local events, membership committee and finance. (Trying to get this one out by 8/15. In the future these should go out no later than one month after the quarter.)

Talked to Funambol about putting their GNOME related grants on the GNOME jobs wiki page and doing an interview about their experience with grants.

Worked on recruiting someone to lead case study activity.

Followed up with the GNOME Mobile member company looking to get more involved.

Apologized personally to the journalists whose travel we were offered to fund to GUADEC (through the Cabildo) but never actually bought their tickets. The board will also follow up.

Talked to one of our current sponsors about the benefit of GNOME Mobile to them.

Talked to a different sponsor about an issue they were concerned with and wanted our input on.

Presented/talked to the Colorado Springs Open Source group around businesses that can be created around free software. Used the GNOME ecosystem as an example. I met a lot of interesting people there including Michael Hammel who wrote a couple of GIMP books.

Found some GNOME folks to respond to an invitation to the 2nd International Symposium on Computers and Arabic Language forwarded by Richard Stallman. (Thanks to Dave Neary for the pointers to how to find the right people.)

Got first set of GUADEC 2008 finances this morning.

Met with Scott Weiss who is in charge of the Symbian UI. We talked about the challenges of having a UI and allowing partners to differentiate in the UI space. He had some interesting things they'd done to get UI feedback, like submissions that had to include a screenshot, posted unattributed to a Symbian UI blog under creative commons and all advertised over twitter. The UI council then picked the top 10 and they voted on those.

Chatted briefly with Peter Brown, the Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation about FSF and GNOME Foundation and ideas for future projects we could work together on.

Filled out the Google Adwords Grant Application – it could take six months to be approved. Thanks to Claus Schwarm who worked on the sample ads, keywords, audience and slogan!

Found companies for the Desktop panel I am chairing at OpenSource World – now need to identify individuals.

Figured out how to contribute to the new GNOME web pages thanks to an email from Paul Cutler but haven't actually contributed anything yet.

Started sending out personal thank you's to everyone who contributes to Friends of GNOME within 48 hours. (I read that after 48 hours people see the thank you as a new solicitation.)

Proposed a final draft for the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit press release that will hopefully go out this week.

My priorities for this week: (Too many repeats. Hoping for bigger blocks of uninterrupted time this week to get some of them done.)

  • Meeting with GNOME Asia Summit planning committee.
  • Thank all the Desktop Summit sponsors (Dave Neary compiled a list of all the
    press
    and blogs that came out of the Desktop Summit!)
  • Continue to work on recruiting someone to lead case study activity:
    • Publish case studies/success stories from the
      foundation (This was an idea that came up on the marketing list and
      Novell has already sent us a great GNOME customer story that we can
      use.)
    • ask other sponsors to help Sun, Red Hat, Canonical for customer stories
  • summarize advisory board feedback for foundation list
  • summarize advisory board feedback for advisory board (close to ready)
  • get feedback from advisory board members on advisory board meeting at GUADEC (I think I'm going to need to ping them individually.)
  • create wiki page for GNOME press team
  • get agreement signed by GNOME folks for the work Canonical is funding on bugzilla for GNOME (Missing one signature – from the sys admin team.)
  • finalize 401K plan with attorneys (pinged attorney again)
  • Start marketing list thread about raising advisory board fees and the communication around that

More stuff that needs to be done:

  • Meeting with Paul Cutler to talk about updating GNOME marketing wiki
    pages. (We didn't meet in person as his trip to Colorado was canceled.)
  • blog about travel committee – they did an excellent job with the Desktop Summit
  • follow up with people who had good ideas at GUADEC that they mentioned to me
  • Talk to Jim Zemlin about Moblin & Linux Foundation and relationship to GNOME Foundation
  • GNOME 3.0 launch plans? Include advisory board companies
  • follow up with OIN – they list GNOME as a partner (Dave Neary met with them at OSCON and followed up with an email)
  • Follow up with someone who had ideas for a GNOME project and wanted to know how to go about it
  • talk to Mozilla about their  Accessibility Strategy
  • figure out how to work with Spanish government
  • Fill out paperwork for 401K insurance
  • continue to ping about automating Friends of GNOME data input process (paypal to gnucash to webpage)
  • Finance stuff (We have a treasurer and vice-treasurer now!):
    • add checks to Friends of GNOME spreadsheet
    • Work on budget with new treasurer
  • Figure out how to get product news from News
    Foundation blog to press and advisory board (will probably give to
    press team when it is created)
  • find someone to help create a GNOME slideset template
  • Amazon mp3 download uses GTK – contact them about sponsorship
  • write up blurbs about why companies sponsor GNOME (or
    find people to help) – for our website (Maybe someone would like to
    help with sponsors?)
  • find someone who can help create a list of
    recommended desktop apps that OpenLogic would put in their library for
    enterprise customers
  • GNOME Foundation sponsorship plan like premium sponsorship – put in wiki
  • follow up with sys admin team about installing a CRM
    system for the GNOME Foundation (It would really help the board,
    Rosanna, myself and others working on contacts, sponsors and finances.)
  • follow up with the sys admin team on setting up
    better analytics for gnome.org so marketing can make better plans.
    (They are working on this one.)
  • follow up with International Cooperation group from
    the university where the Desktop Summit was housed (They’d like to work
    with us to promote free software in developing countries.)
  • send finance update out to advisory board (I’ll be doing this once a month.)
  • write up notes from marketing BOF at the Desktop Summit
  • Help Rosanna recruit someone to help automate some
    more of the Friends’ process – like getting Friends of GNOME donor
    names on the website as they come in

Gifts for the Kindle user that has it all

Do you live with someone that buys themselves all the toys they want? And so when it comes time for giving gifts, you’re stuck?

Here’s some ideas for the Kindle user that has it all:

1. Kindle. Unless they have the latest Kindle, they’ll really appreciate the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s lighter, has a better screen and best of all, it’s backlit! If they already have the Paperwhite, the Kindle Fire is a really popular tablet – so it not only holds books but also let’s you browse the web and install apps. (And for kids, you can set time limits for each type of activity, so you can say 30 minutes of games, 30 minutes of browsing and unlimited reading each day.)

2. Covers. You can’t have too many covers or jackets – it’s like having multiple jackets to wear or multiple pairs of shoes. I reviewed Kindle covers when I got my last Kindle. For my Paperwhite, I got a BUILT Neoprene sleeve that I really like.

3. An Audible account. Kindles now have an amazing feature called Whispersync which allows you to switch back and forth from the audio version of the book and the visual version. So if you need to stop reading so you can get in the car to drive, you can continue listening to your book! Buy your Kindle fan an Audible account so they can get the audio versions of books.

4. A light. If they don’t have a Paperwhite or a Kindle Fire, and you’re looking for a smaller present, try a light. A light helps when reading in bed or on the airplane. This clip-on light is one of the most popular ones. This M-edge light that fits into the Kindle M-Edge cover.

5. Amazon gift card. Kindle users buy all their books from Amazon, so giving them an Amazon gift card is as good as giving them their favorite books!

6. Chargers. Like an extra power adaptor or a car charger. I keep one power adaptor in my bedroom and one in my suitcase.

Plus Kindle users are likely to like other geeky gifts

Any other ideas for the Kindle user that has it all?

Good luck!