Last week, I finally did two things I wanted to do for a long time:
Today, I had my third-last exam, but the last exam for the next few weeks. So: Time for coding!
Thus, I just released Markdowku v10. It contains several smaller fixes of bugs mentioned in the ticket tracking system. Nothing really notable, except for definetely removing the double underline markup for making things bold, but using Dokuwiki's underline syntax for this instead.
Half a month ago, there was the 30th Chaos communication congress - 30c3. I won't write much about the congress itself. It has grown up, and with more than 9000 visitors, you'll find enough reports about it on the web.
For me, the most important thing this congress was meeting with some people from the french FFDN, the Federation FDN (French Data Network). The FDN seems to be an old remnant of something like the IN-Berlin. The FFDN was founded in 2010 and is like the old Individual Network: A France-wide organisation of regional ISPs reselling DSL, building own wifi networks, and offering other services.
I talked a lot with them and learned more about them – how they succeed (they have more than 1600 members in France), how they connect, how they work. But what was more important about that meeting was the idea to communicate more across all the DIY ISPs in the world (or, in particular, Europe).
In the end, we had a session with a Pad gathering all the ideas, and, in the aftermath, the wiki diyisp.org was created. A mailing list and an IRC channel (#diy-isp on Freenode) already existed, and the movement got even more momentum when it was mentioned on Hacker News.
The next meeting of the group (mostly people from Bruxelles and France) will be at the fosdem. So far, I'm the only German one who wanted to join them on fosdem, but hopefully there will be more in the end - there are still three weeks left till fosdem.
Personally, I'm more interested in the German organisation. Having something Europe-wide is indeed very, very nice, but it will not be possible to do actual work under any legislation – only sharing of ideas, code, designs etc. is possible. When it comes to the legal part, we will still have to organize country-specific.
After diyisp.org was set up, I contacted some of the old Individual Networks in Germany. In the beginning of the 90ies, they were the only ISPs connecting private persons to the Internet - non-commercially. And several of them are still very active, with many users. There is just no communication between them, though it is required!
Documents like terms of services are expensive to create, but if we are more, we have the opportunity to pay that together and everybody benefits from that. Or getting goot DSL reselling conditions from large ISPs, sharing infrastructure to gain access to peering points, etc. There are many reasons to connect.
I'm still not sure how to do this. diyisp.org is primarily for the communication of international DIY ISPs. Setting up German coordination would mean a split - even before DIYISP really started. Maybe it's better to just scout for the possibilities of a new German platform on DIYISP before trying to organize it.
Though being a GSoC student this year, I helped organising Google Code-In last year. Google holds an “unconference” (i.e., only rather spontaneous discussion sessions instead of planned talks) every year for GSoC and GCi mentors. So I made my way to Silicon Valley…
After a 14 hours flight starting on Wednesday, 6am, and arriving at 12pm local time (a 14 hour flight with nine hours time difference), sleeping on the plane was a good deal to not be too tired when arriving there. Arriving at SFO, I took the BART to the hostel I booked in northern San Francisco. That evening, I visited the Noisebridge, San Francisco's hackerspace. As the main room was used for watching the movie Mediastan about Wikileaks, I went to a side room, where two other GSoC Summit attendees from KDE were.
Though I should spend the whole next three days also there, I took the Caltrain next day to go to Mountain View. There were two things I had to see: The Computer History Museum, maybe the world's largest Computer museum, and the Hacker Dojo, Mountain View's hackerspace.
The Computer History Museum (which I also visited next day with blymn@nb) is indeed very nice. It's rather made for “generic” visitors than technicians, and the guides, though they might be very smart, are also just doing guidances for the “usual” visitors. So you either have to know the details before going there, or have fun just by seeing and imagining things. You won't get many details from the exhibition, but see a lot of old hardware. After being to the exhibition, of course I had to go to the gift shop and buy several T-shirts. At least something I could take with me from the USA. Honestly, I tried to find stuff I could bring with me for a long time, but there was nothing I could need.
Of course I did not plan my trip to the Hacker Dojo, so I had to use GoogleWifi, the free wifi which is distributed in (whole) Mountain View to find out where it is. After walking for almost two hours and taking several pictures of Google Self-driving cars, I arrived at the Hacker Dojo. As it has strict opening hours, I hadn't have to ask before when I could get there to meet somebody. It's huge. Really. Huge. If you're used to German/European hackerspaces, you'll have difficulties to imagine the size of it. It's just like… three or five times the c-base. There was a large group of people listening to a talk with free Pizza and drinks (I assume) about network administration, and another 20 persons sitting in the large hall, hacking something. Several people in the lounge just hanging out or playing pool. And there was a gaming marathon (or so) in one of the seminar rooms, etc. …
Next day, I went to Mountain View again, this time with all my luggage: I had to move to the Wild Palms Hotel where the Summit attendees would be staying. So I left early in the morning to meet at 11:30am with other NetBSD people for “lunch” (at 11:30am? Whatever…) at a Mexican restaurant.
Though it was nice, I was confused over all. I arrived there to find a group of four people who were clearly computer guys, so I asked them and took a seat with them. I introduced myself and they introduced themselves, but I had no idea. I have difficulties understanding Americans anyway, and I didn't know any of their names.
After some time blymn arrived with two more people I didn't know as well. I seem to not know any of the American NetBSD developers (they do totally different areas of development?!), and then not understanding how they introduce themselves… I not only remember only blymn, I never understood any other name. Apparently, gimpy was along as well, but that's something I heard after that. I doubt they know who I was, anyway.
After lunch, we went to the Computer History Museum (I didn't finish it the first time), and then in the evening, we went to the hotel where I would be staying for the next two nights, to have the first Google-financed food and beer.
The next two days, there would be the GSoC summit. We were driven there by a shuttle bus from Google to the Google Campus. The bus was equipped with wifi, and honestly, it was the most stable and performant wifi connection I had during my whole stay… The GSoC summit was indeed nice.
Nice food, nice drinks, nice sessions. Meeting a lot of nice persons doing cool projects. I won't go a lot into details about this, as I have to order the ideas I got there for myself as well first before writing that down. But it was inspiring to see what other projects do, and what NetBSD could be doing in the future, and I also had a great personal benefit from it.
After two days of talking, there was already the last day, and a shuttle drove us all to the airport, waiting for our flights back. When unmounting the plane in Paris, I also met a French developer from Supertuxkart who attended GSoC and apparently was in the same plane as me. We talked a bit about the summit, and came to the same conclusion: American OS developers are strange! I mean, look at the German Open Source community. Look at the people you'll find when you go to the fosdem. They're hobbyists. Though ofthen, they are professionals as well, they're doing Open Source in their spare time. When you're talking to an American, you'll get the impression that everything is about business. Open Source Project? Sure, you already have a business plan? What, you're doing it in your spare time? I like it when people have passion…
The same for the Hacker Dojo. Though it was a nice place, most people there seemed to have business in mind. Instead of going ot a Starbucks to work (people are actually doing this regularly in the USA!), they'll go to the Hacker Dojo. Or do some hacking, which in the end will become a business, or so.
It's just so much… business. But I won't start talking about the other things I noticed when being in the USA (also during my first stay three years ago). USA's different to Europe, for sure.
As Sven Guckes' calendar is imho too overcrowded with local events and grical has a strange user interface, I decided to make my own calendar. It will feature Hacking, Open Source, Demoscene and Vintage Computing events around Germany (countries close by will also be added, but I'm not aware of the events there). Have a look!