CategoryFree and open source software (FOSS)

All articles related to free and open source software (FOSS) are here. Topics include my favorite software, thoughts on contributing to open source communities, some experiences in the Fedora and MetaBrainz communities, my thoughts on issues in the world of FOSS, and more.

Humanitarian open source work: My internship at UNICEF

In December, I received the happy news of an offer for a internship position at UNICEF in the Office of Innovation. The Office of Innovation drives rapid technological innovation by rapid prototyping of new ideas and building full-stack products to make a positive impact in the lives of children. This is a simple answer, but a more detailed description is on our website.

My internship at UNICEF is unique: I support open source community engagement and research as my primary task for the MagicBox project. For years, I’ve done this in open source communities in my free time (namely SpigotMC and Fedora), but never in a professional role. As I navigate my way through this exciting opportunity, I plan to document some of the experience as I go through blogging. My intent is that my observations and notes will be useful to someone else in the humanitarian open source space (or maybe to a future me).

But first, what does “open source community engagement and research” really mean?

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2017 – My Year in Review

I can’t remember how writing an annual reflection became a tradition, but after writing them for the last two years, it is now a habit. Every time I look back on all that the last year brought into my life, it is surreal. Many things that happened, I could never have expected one or two years ago. And perhaps now, I see that life is defined by the unexpected moments: the things that surprise us, warm our hearts, sadden us, and remind us of our humanity. Thus, I present my year in review of 2017.

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Raspberry Pis and open source at Rochester Mini Maker Faire

This article was originally published on Opensource.com.


The Rochester Mini Maker Faire is an annual event at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, NY. Each year, makers, creators, artists, and more from all over upstate New York and beyond show their crafts and creations to the community. Open source software and hardware are popular items at the Rochester Mini Maker Faire, with countless Raspberry Pis, Arduino boards, and open source projects powering many electronic projects.

On November 18th, the Free and Open Source Software initiative at the RIT MAGIC Center and the RIT Linux Users Group presented projects and their communities at the Faire. Students from both communities demonstrated projects made with Raspberry Pis or larger undertakings on other open source projects.

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Statistics proposal and self-hosting ListenBrainz

This post is part of a series of posts where I contribute to the ListenBrainz project for my independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall 2017 semester. For more posts, find them in this tag.


This week is the last week of the fall 2017 semester at RIT. This semester, I spent time with the MetaBrainz community working on ListenBrainz for an independent study. This post explains what I was working on in the last month and reflects back on my original objectives for the independent study.

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Election night hackathon supports civic engagement

This article was originally published on Opensource.com.


On November 7, 2017, members of the RIT community came together for the annual Election Night Hackathon held in the Simone Center for Student Innovation. This year marked the seventh anniversary of a civic tradition with the [email protected] community. As local and state election results come in across nine projectors, students and professors work together on civic-focused projects during the night. Dan Schneiderman, the [email protected] Community Liaison, compiled lists of open APIs that let participants use public sets of data made available by governments at the federal, state, and local level.

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ListenBrainz community gardening and user statistics

This post is part of a series of posts where I contribute to the ListenBrainz project for my independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall 2017 semester. For more posts, find them in this tag.


My progress with ListenBrainz slowed, but I am resuming the pace of contributing and advancing on my independent study timeline. This past week, I finished out assigned tasks to discuss contributor-related documentation, like a Code of Conduct, contributor guidelines, and a pull request template. I began research on user statistics and found some already created. I wrote one of my own, but need to learn more about Google BigQuery to advance further.

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Exploring Google Code-In, ListenBrainz easyfix bugs, D3.js

This post is part of a series of posts where I contribute to the ListenBrainz project for my independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall 2017 semester. For more posts, find them in this tag.


Last week moved quickly for me in ListenBrainz. I submitted multiple pull requests and participated in the weekly developer’s meeting on Monday. I was also invited to take part as a mentor for ListenBrainz for the upcoming round of Google Code-In! In addition to my changes and new role as a mentor, I’m researching libraries like D3.js to help build visualizations for music data.  Suddenly, everything started moving fast!

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How to set up a ListenBrainz development environment

This post is part of a series of posts where I contribute to the ListenBrainz project for my independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall 2017 semester. For more posts, find them in this tag.


One of the first rites of passage when working on a new project is creating your development environment. It always seems simple, but sometimes there are bumps along the way. The first activity I did to begin contributing to ListenBrainz was create my development environment. I wasn’t successful with the documentation in the README, so I had to play around and work with the project before I was even running it.

The first part of this post details how to set up your own development environment. Then, the second half talks about the solution I came up with and my first contribution back to the project.

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On the data refrain: Contributing to ListenBrainz

A unique opportunity of attending an open source-friendly university is when course credits and working on open source projects collide. This semester, I’m participating in an independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I will contribute to the ListenBrainz project.

Many students take part in independent studies where they work on their own projects. However, in the spirit of open source collaboration, I wanted to contribute to a project that already existed. That way, my work would be helpful to a real-world project where it would have a value even after the end of the semester. Additionally, I wanted  a project to help me sharpen my Python skill. And ListenBrainz was a fun, exciting candidate for this.

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Embracing open source cloud: Local government in Tirana switches to open source cloud solution

This article was originally published on Opensource.com.


Open source software has come a long way since the turn of the century. Each year, more and more people are embracing open source technology and development models. Not just people, though ­– corporations and governments are exploring open source solutions too. From the White House to the Italian army, open source is appearing more frequently in the public sector. But perhaps the newest addition to the list is the municipality of Tirana, Albania.

On June 11th, the local government in the municipality of Tirana migrated their private cloud to Nextcloud, an open source cloud and office productivity suite. The decision to move to an integrated cloud / office suite came after internal discussion about security and performance. Because Nextcloud is entirely open source, it stood out as a powerful option for the municipality to consider.

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