FSFE Newsletter - February 2012
Reclaim your smartphone!
Smartphones are small computers that we carry around all the time. Unfortunately, most smartphones are not controlled by us, the users, but by the manufacturers and the operators. Even Android phones are being shipped with non-free software and proprietary add-ons that usually do not work in the full interest of us. Software updates will only keep to be available if the manufacturer still has a commercial interest in your device. The applications available from the official market are most of the time non-free. Nobody is allowed to study how they work and what they really do on your phone. Sometimes they do not work exactly as you want, but sometimes they might even contain malicious features.
Running only Free Software on your device puts you in full control. Even though you might not be able to directly exercise all of your freedoms, you will benefit from a vibrant community that can do it together.
FSFE is collecting information about running an Android system as free as possible. We try to coordinate the different efforts, but we need your help with it. Join our mailing list, update the wiki and thereby enable more people to use Free Software on their everyday computers.
Lesson 1: Learn how to programme!
Our education team has done solid work in 2011, including our NL edu campaign. Free Software permits children to learn how software works and thus to understand the concepts underlying a whole category or type of software. They are then prepared to adapt to any environment, which is a key skill nowadays. In addition, we believe that the possibility to tinker does motivate children easily to learn autonomously. Finally, Free Software allows them to understand computers in a more depth.
Sam Tuke was asked by the BBC to comment about suggestions that the British Government may add basic programming skills to the national curriculum, and whether this would have a political impact on society in terms of how we interact with technology. The education team will have a brief meeting at the upcoming FOSDEM, at the 4th and 5th of February. You are welcome to join.
Already plans for 28th of March?
Open Standards make it easier for individuals, companies and the public administration to switch to Free Software. The goal of the Document Freedom Day is to raise awareness for Open Standards so people have more freedom. This year your editor is in charge of DFD and he will bluntly promote it in this and upcoming newsletters. At the moment, please save the date 28th of March, send our country teams nominations for the Document Freedom Award, help us to gather information for our Standards Quartet, find street artists to promote the idea of Open Standards, and contact the DFD team if you want to become a supporting organisation.
Something completely different
- Time to vote: The 2012 Fellowship election is running until the end of February. As Fellow you can decide between Albert Dengg, Gert Seidl, and Nikos Roussos. On 22nd February we plan to have a chat meeting with the candidates.
- Slovak Copyright Act: FSFE intern Martin Husovec sent letters to four members of Slovak Parliament that proposed a highly awaited amendment, but later faced its dismissal due to preliminary elections.
- Richard Stallman's new article "Measures Governments Can Use to Promote Free Software" is out.
- Two new editions of the legal news cover the US Supreme Court decision on copyright extension, patent inflation, the release of the Mozilla Public License version 2.0 which is GNU GPL-compatible, and more.
- During the January 18th protest against SOPA, we blacked out our website joining other organisations to protect the Internet.
- Here a selection from the Fellowship
- The new FSFE Fellowship blog theme — a name, a first version. Presenting: Pome 1.0.
- Interested why Thomas Koch suggests you should stop coding for money?
- You should demand Free Software in a business context because it makes sense and saves a lot of money, says Jelle Hermsen.
- Fellow No1 tells us how much 57 persons in Randa can eat while hacking on Free Software
- What is the "web trap"? Heiki Ojasild argued to treat HTML, SVG and CSS as tools that should be as accessible to everyone as software in general should be.
- And a nice hardware hack: Computer startup aid using a LEGO train.
Get active: More love reports instead of bug reports!
Let us admit it, the Free Software community is often very critical. We write bug reports, tell others how they can improve the software, ask them for new features, and to not spare with criticism. Sometimes we forget to say "thank you, for all your work". As in the last years, we want to change this, at least for one day. So on Tuesday the 14th of February we will celebrate the "I love Free Software" - Day.
Get active, buy your favourite developer a drink or give them a hug (ask for permission first), write an e-mail/letter expressing your feelings, create nice pictures, donate to a Free Software initiative, use another of our suggestions or be create yourself to show how you appreciate people, working hard to enlarge or defend our freedom. Beside that help us to promote the activity with our banners, by e-mail, (micro)blog or in your (distributed?) social networks.
New this year is a whole day event in the Unperfekthaus in Essen (Germany) and that all our Fellows automatically get an firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail alias.