Why FOSS is still not on activist agendas

On December 13th, 2006, author Bruce Byfield reflected on why he thought Free and Open Source Software (F.O.S.S.) was not on activist agendas. My interpretation of his views are that a knowledge barrier about technology makes FOSS less accessible, the insular nature of activism makes collaboration difficult, and FOSS activists reaching out to other activists with shared values should be encouraged. On December 13th, 2019, is FOSS on activist agendas? The answer is not black or white, but a gray somewhere in the middle. This is my response to Byfield’s article, thirteen years later, on what he got right but also what he left out.

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HPC workloads in containers: Comparison of container run-times

Recently, I worked on an interesting project to evaluate different container run-times for high-performance computing (HPC) clusters. HPC clusters are what we once knew as supercomputers. Today, instead of giant mainframes, they are hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of massively parallel systems. Since performance is critical, virtualization with tools like virtual machines or Docker containers was not realistic. The overhead was too much compared to bare metal.

However, the times are a-changing! Containers are entering as real players in the HPC space. Previously, containers were brushed off as incompatible with most HPC workflows. Now, several open source projects are emerging with unique approaches to enabling containers for HPC workloads. This blog post evaluates four container run-times in an HPC context, as they stand in July 2019:

  • Charliecloud
  • Shifter
  • Singularity
  • Podman
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Write more accessible Markdown images with this one simple trick

Sometimes the people we exclude are the ones we did not realize were there. Screen readers are an essential tool for blind and visually-impaired people to use software and browse the Internet. In open source projects and communities, Markdown is a lightweight markup language used to format text. It is also used in many other places. Often you need to embed an image into whatever you are writing (a picture, a diagram, or some useful visual aid to get your point across). One of the lesser-known and used features of Markdown are alt tags for images.

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What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, abbreviated as EDS, is a genetic disorder that affects 1 out of 5,000 people across the world. It is considered an “invisible illness” since its symptoms are not always visible to the eye.

This article introduces Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, its symptoms, how to support someone living with EDS, and simple actions anyone can take to help.

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TeleIRC v1.3.1 released with quality-of-life improvements

On April 20th, 2019, the TeleIRC development team released TeleIRC v1.3.1, the latest version after the final development sprint for the university semester. This release introduces minor improvements in order to accommodate heavier work-balance loads on our volunteer contributors. However, it gave us an opportunity to reduce technical debt. This blog post explains what’s new in TeleIRC v1.3.1 and also offers a retrospective into how this last sprint went.

Special thanks and appreciation goes to Tim Zabel and Nic Hartley for their contributions this release cycle.

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Roadmap for TeleIRC v1.4

The RITlug TeleIRC developer team celebrated the v1.3 release on March 3rd, 2019. Looking ahead, the team is mapping out next steps for quality-of-life improvements in v1.4.

What’s coming in TeleIRC v1.4

TeleIRC v1.4 is the next feature release of TeleIRC. The targeted release date for v1.4 is by the end of April 2019 (i.e. the end of the academic semester for students involved with the project). Following v1.4, the project will likely enter brief hibernation until Fall 2019 when the RIT academic semester begins again.

At the developer meeting on March 23rd, we discussed the scope of this sprint and what we felt is realistic for project maintainers to work on:

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Throwback draft: Reflections on Sarajevo and Croatia

This is an unfinished draft of a blog post I wrote at the end of my study abroad semester in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was originally written in May or June 2017. It captures some of the perspective and feeling as my semester abroad finished. As I explain in my 2017 year in review, this was a profound experience and exposed me to a part of the world unlike my own, yet it felt like a home by the end.

Unfortunately, as I write later in this blog post, the “window of inspiration” to finish this draft has closed. So I figured it better to publish it as-is than to let it waste.

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Throwback draft: Integral of a community

Recently, I reviewed my unfinished blog posts to see what was left. This post is my oldest draft, last modified on April 19th, 2016. I drafted this near the end of my second semester of freshman year in college. This was a pivotal time for me for various reasons: family background, living in a new place after so long, finding a community of people, and a few months before one of my earliest trips abroad to Kraków, Poland. My 2016 year in review captures this sentiment.

The blog post I wrote comes from this place in my life. It writes in a voice I would not write in today. It also does not accurately reflect my current perspectives. However, instead of tossing it, I figured to publish it unfinished with this disclaimer would be no different.

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TeleIRC v1.3: Developers map out next release

On Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, the TeleIRC community in Rochester, NY held the first developers’ meeting. Starting this month, weekly meetings are held to discuss blocking issues and plan ahead for the future of the project. Current project lead Justin W. Flory met with Tim Zabel and Nic Hartley to finish planning the v1.3 milestone for TeleIRC. Notably, this marks the next feature-release of TeleIRC since v1.2 in October 2018.

Read on to learn more about what’s coming in TeleIRC v1.3.

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Why did Fedora Modularity fail in 2017? A brief reflection

For the ISTE-430 Information Requirements Modelling course at the Rochester Institute of Technology, students are asked to analyze an example of a failed software project and write a short summary on why it failed. For the assignment, I evaluated the December 2017 announcement on Fedora Modularity. I thought it was an interesting example of a project that experienced initial difficulty but re-calibrated and succeeded in the end. And it is a project I am biased towards, as a Fedora user and sysadmin.

I thought sharing it on my blog might be interesting for others. Don’t read into this too much – it was a quick analysis from a single primary source and a few secondary references.

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