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November 9th and 10th, 2018

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SeaGL speaker Q&A: Alex Jordan
October 21, 2015

Alex Jordan answers some questions from SeaGL staff:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

My name’s Alex Jordan, but I generally introduce myself to people as “AJ”. I’m a senior in high school. My first experience with free software was when I installed Ubuntu when I was 10, but I only started getting seriously involved in the free software community about three years ago. I like Emacs, Arch Linux, and zsh, and I’m almost entirely self-hosted.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

So here’s the idea: when you’re working with free software, you can open up a terminal and type “python3” (for example) and get a working Python 3 environment. We all take that for granted, but in the proprietary world, there’s no equivalent. In my talk, I address the reason for this and the ramifications for the future of our community. Think about it: people teach programming with our stuff. So why are so many developers drawn to proprietary platforms?

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

This will be my second visit to SeaGL. My visit last year was nothing short of wonderful. SeaGL has such a strong focus on the freedom of free software (as opposed to “open source”) which makes it a really unique environment to be in.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Paige Peterson
October 20, 2015

SeaGL speaker Paige Peterson talks privacy, security, and freedom:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

Paige is an advocate for open standards, user privacy and decentralized technologies. After receiving a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art practicing experimental tech art with a strong focus on complexity in nature, her interests were drawn towards decentralization as a concept that would bring reliability and sustainability into existing human-designed systems. Her job with mesh networking startup, Open Garden and becoming an organiser of the San Francisco bitcoin meetup put her at the center of the newest technologies with decentralization at their core. In early 2014, Paige met Scotland-based company MaidSafe, who are building a peer-to-peer Internet using the very principles of natural systems which she became attracted to many years prior, and she has been working on various communication efforts for them since.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

For almost a decade, a small but growing team based in Scotland has been researching and developing what it would take to build an Internet with privacy, security and freedom for all its users. It was observed that servers were the primary points of vulnerability in the existing Internet and that while there is no one central point of control, they not only allow but incentivize major points of centralization and dependency. By drawing inspiration from the resiliency of systems found in nature, MaidSafe has built an open source peer-to-peer network and developer framework with inherent properties of privacy, security and freedom for users and their data. I’ll be talking about how this system works and what to expect as a user, developer and node operator.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

I have not been but am very much looking forward to experiencing the free/libre culture from this part of the world. I attended LibrePlanet earlier this year and had a great time bonding with folks who value freedom in software.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Jeremy Lindblom
October 19, 2015

SeaGL asks Jeremy Lindblom a few questions:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

Hi, I’m Jeremy, or @jeremeamia on Twitter and GitHub. I’m a software engineer and have been doing PHP/LAMP and web development for about 10 years. I recently started working at McGraw-Hill Education, but I was working for Amazon Web Services prior to that, which is what brought my family and me up to the Seattle area. I’m a big fan of open source and have contributed to a number of projects in the PHP community. I’m passionate about the PHP community and have been running the Seattle PHP User Group for a few years and also the Pacific Northwest PHP conference, which debuted last month. I am also a frequent speaker at PHP conferences around the country.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

My presentation is called “20 Years if PHP”, and I want to talk about PHP and how it has evolved over time. This year is PHP’s 20th birthday, and the PHP community is stronger than ever. In the latter part of last decade, PHP dwindled, but there were some very important events that led to a renewal of PHP, both in the language and community. I want to talk about all of that and showcase the cool features, tools, and practices that are a part of modern PHP.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

This will be my first time at SeaGL. I’ve been trying to get involved in more events outside of just PHP-themed ones. This event sounds awesome, and I’m excited to attend.

Q: How can people get involved in the PHP community in the Seattle area?

A: The Seattle PHP User Group meets monthly to socialize and host technical presentations about PHP topics and related technology and tools. Come hang out with us. You can find us on Meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com/seaphp) and on Twitter (@seaphp).

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Benjamin Mako Hill
October 19, 2015

Benjamin Mako Hill shares some thoughts with SeaGL:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and a faculty affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and an affiliate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science — both at Harvard.

By night, I’ve been a hacker and contributor to a bunch of different free software communities over more than a decade. Most visibly, I’ve contributed to the Debian and Ubuntu projects. I’ve written several best-selling technical books, I’m a member of the Free Software Foundation board of directors, and I’m an advisor to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

The free software movement has twin goals: promoting access to software through users’ freedom to share, and empowering users by giving them control over their technology. For all our movement’s success, we have been much more successful at the former. I will use data from free software and from several related movements to explain why promoting empowerment is systematically more difficult than promoting access and I will explore how our movement might address the second challenge in the future.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

I attended last year’s conference and I had a fantastic time. I love that it’s a real community driven conference. Back when I first started playing in the free software world in the nineties, GNU/Linux conferences (like the Atlanta Linux Showcase) were places for excited newcomers to get together with other likeminded folks. Between then and now, most have become big corporate affairs. SeaGL reminds me of why I loved going to conferences in the first place.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Andrew Kane
October 19, 2015

Andrew Kane will speak about contributing to projects:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’m not very interesting in my own right. My personal background is both boring and depressing.

I became interested in computing early on, and had a Commodore 64 when I was a small. I heard about Linux in 1994 from a person I worked with, but didn’t have and couldn’t afford a computer at that time. After hitchhiking to Washington in 1995 and living in the woods for a year, I moved to Seattle because there were no computers where I was. Also I wanted to participate in this Internet thing I’d heard so much about (later I realized I’d already been on it via GOPHER, but that’s another story).

I first installed Slackware in 1996 and have run GNU/Linux on all my computers since. About this time I learned about the GNU Project and the idea of Free Software and I wanted to be part of this new way of doing things.

More recently I worked with and helped to destroy Free Geek Seattle, and am working on another project to help make such an organization live again. I decided that another layer of abstraction was needed. During this time I switched to using Debian for all my computers, and am trying to help that project.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

The talk is about how newcomers can contribute to Libre projects. Since the talk is itself Free Software and I’m a Debian booster, the talk will use itself and Debian as example projects. There will be some discussion of technical topics (how to submit patches, etc.) and some discussion of interpersonal topics (since ‘politics’ is a dirty word) including but not limited to the thickness of skins as a hidden requirement for participation in some projects.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

I have attended the previous two SeaGL events as a table anchor for Free Geek Seattle (and incidentally for GSLUG also). I’m very impressed with the growth of the event and the quality of the information presented there. I’ve also enjoyed interacting with the organizers. Good times all round thus far.

Q: This is an optional question. If you have a question you’d like to ask yourself to answer, put it here and then answer it:

The question: “Does it matter who you are?”

The answer: For the purposes of this presentation, not at all. If this talk is only accessible to people like me, then it will be a complete failure. If it cannot be successfully repeated by someone who is not me nor similar to me, then it will be mostly a failure.

Free Software cannot work without radical inclusion. It must be open to all or it isn’t really open at all.

Free Software projects are collaborative projects. Without collaboration there is no reason to publish your code. When people work together they must be able to communicate honestly and openly. This means that barriers to communication must be addressed and overcome.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Garrett Honeycutt
October 16, 2015

Garrett Honeycutt talks with SeaGL about Test Driven Development:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’ve been hacking *nix based systems and spreading the word about free software for over fifteen years. Previously I’ve worked on such things as building core internet infrastructure at Speakeasy, creating mobile media distribution platforms and as a professional services engineer with Puppet Labs. At my company, LearnPuppet.com, I consult and teach people around the world about automation with Puppet and DevOps processes. At Transforia, I am co-founder and CTO where we lease fully managed, secure, GNU/Linux based laptops and desktops. Besides submitting patches, I give back to the community by speaking at user groups, conferences and co-organizing FOSSETCON in Orlando.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

Developers have long been using Test Driven Development (TDD) for building applications. Now that SysAdmins are treating their infrastructure as software, we must look to best practices in development. This talk will explain how to implement TDD and gain confidence through testing for system administrators.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

I had the good fortune to speak last year with the talk “Intro to Puppet and Why Configuration Management is Important”. I enjoy the atmosphere of the conference taking place inside a school and the exceptionally high quality of the other speakers.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Lance Albertson
October 15, 2015

Speaker Lance Albertson answers a few questions from SeaGL:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I am a native of Northeast Kansas and lived most of my life in the wonderful sunflower state. I grew up on a corn/soybeans farm near Hiawatha, KS where my family farms around 1800 acres. I attended Kansas State University and got a degree in Agriculture Technology Management. I also received minors in Agronomy and Computer Science at K-State.

In June of 2007, I took a huge leap of faith and moved to Oregon. I left my whole family and most of my friends behind to take on a dream job at Oregon State University. Currently I’m the Director at the OSU Open Source Lab and help make sure important open source projects keep their servers running!

I’ve also been involved with the Ganeti project off and on over the years.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

This will be a combination of a historical overview of FOSS hosting over the past 10-15 years, how hosting has changed at the OSL and where I think things are going as far as hosting for FOSS projects. It will largely be focused on how this impacts the future of FOSS hosting at the OSL and where we are thinking about going.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

Yes! The only expectation or impression I have is that it will be a high-impact, but low-key event with key people from the FOSS ecosystem.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Aaron Wolf
October 13, 2015

SeaGL speaker Aaron Wolf talks about making music with free/libre/open tools:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’m a musician and music teacher. I used to use Apple computers and was introduced to software freedom as a user of GPL software such as Musescore and Audacity. As more of my students started using iThings, I initially hoped to see such tools there. Instead, I learned that Apple made terms that censored out GPL software, and instead iThings were left with a proprietary walled-garden where even a simple guitar tuner app gets injected with obnoxious advertisements.

I switched to GNU/Linux in January 2012, and that brought me tons of new perspectives and led to co-founding an ambitious new project that has taken over my life: Snowdrift.coop is a free-software, free-culture fundraising platform that aims to better coordinate the global community to fund deserving projects that respect our freedoms. The core idea is a network-matching pledge in which a patron of a project can say “I will donate more each month for each additional patron who will support this project with me.” The details are a talk in itself, but interested folks can visit the site at Snowdrift.coop.

I continue using GNU/Linux while making a modest living teaching private music lessons. Where feasible, I promote the issues of software freedom to my students and encourage them to move to GNU/Linux.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

My talk will simply be a tour through the basics of music production on GNU/Linux. We’ll cover basics about hardware setup, latency, JACK, ALSA, and such. I’ll mention repos and community websites. Then, we’ll explore some simple introductions to the most user-friendly music software: Audacity, Ardour, Musescore, Guitarix, Hydrogen, the Cadence Suite, and more. We’ll be making some new music on the fly to demonstrate these tools.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

This is my first visit to SeaGL. I expect it will be something like LinuxFest Northwest with a little more emphasis on GNU. I know many of the people involved.

I hope that it will attract diverse attendees both in terms of things like gender and cultural background and in terms of interests and occupations. However, I won’t be surprised if there’s the common unfortunate heavy white male programmer / sysadmin dominance — after all, it’s a GNU/Linux conference. I also hope that the emphasis on software freedom and GNU bring out clear political messages about the importance of building a free society rather than the typical tech conference focus on just the technology itself.

Besides my talk, I look forward to continue recruiting more folks to help with Snowdrift.coop, and I’m sure I’ll see a mix of familiar faces and also meet new supportive people.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Lee Fisher
October 10, 2015

SeaGL speaker Lee Fisher shares information about his upcoming UEFI presentation:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’ve been working on computers for many years, mostly at the OS level, more recently at the firmware level. I started with a Commodore 64, started working on AT&T UNIX and DEC VAX/VMS systems. These days I use Debian, and other FOSS OSes, and focus on *nix-based firmware, Open Hardware, open source firmware, and FOSS.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

Learning some of the threats that UEFI exposes, and some of the existing open source tools you can use to test your firmware for signs of attacks. I’ll be focusing on tools like CHIPSEC, FirmWare Test Suite (FWTS), BIOS Interface Test Suite (BITS), UEFItool, UEFI Firmware Parser, and some other tools, as well as the Yocto-based LUV (Linux UEFI Validation) distro, and it’s LUV-live release.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

I’ve been to all of the SeaGLs, exhibiting at community booths, Free Geek Seattle, TA3M Seattle booths. It was rather small at first, but has had some nice presentations. It has been getting bigger each year, I’m hoping for 200 people, at least.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Noah Swartz
October 08, 2015

SeaGL speaker Noah Swartz answers a few questions from SeaGL staff:

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: Noah is a Staff Technologist on the Tech Projects team. He works on the various software the EFF produces and maintains, including but not limited to Privacy Badger.

Before joining EFF Noah was a researcher at the MIT Media Lab as well as a technomancer and free software/culture advocate.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: This talk will go over the state of tracking on the web, how advertisers cause this, how browsers allow this, how EFF’s Privacy Badger aims to stop this, and what you can do to help.

Q: How can attendees help the EFF with their efforts to end web tracking?

A: EFF maintains a tracker blocker called Privacy Badger. Due to the size of the EFF it’s hard for us to develop and maintain large software projects at the same speed as commercial alternatives. We’d love to see more outside contributions from the wider Free Software community. I’ll be available throughout the conference to help people get acquainted with EFF’s software projects, and help new contributors make their first contributions.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I attended SeaGL last year, it was a lot of fun. Many great Free Software advocates all giving really enlightening talks.


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