pseudo-summer of code (paid)

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Dan MacNeil

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May 20, 2011, 12:11:58 PM5/20/11
to GSoD
We ( http://thecsl.org ) have also suffered a bit of disappointment
this summer. As an organization, we were rejected for official GSOC
this summer.

However, we raised $5,000 on our own. Google was kind enough to match
that. We have two pseudo GSOC positions.

Application procedure below:

http://wiki.thecsl.org/mediawiki/index.php/Pseudo_GSOC

Dan MacNeil

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May 20, 2011, 1:27:23 PM5/20/11
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>[Somebody asked if Students outside the USA are eligible. ]

Yes, from talking to Google people, We believe we can get you the money and let you worry about the taxes.

Because face to face communication is easier, our preference would be for a local person, but if no local people submit a competitive application we will work with people outside the USA.


॥ स्वक्ष ॥

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May 21, 2011, 1:49:19 AM5/21/11
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On Fri, May 20, 2011 at 16:11, Dan MacNeil <d...@thecsl.org> wrote:
[..]

I've forwarded (spammed**) your message on some IRC channels and seven
other mailing lists, so despite the short application deadline I hope
you get more applicants :)

** Someone even asked me to post it on jobs.perl.org *grin*

vid ॥ http://svaksha.com

Dan MacNeil

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May 22, 2011, 12:48:36 AM5/22/11
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> I've forwarded (spammed**) your message on some IRC channels and seven
> other mailing lists, so despite the short application deadline I hope
> you get more applicants:)

Generally, Overall, Thank you.

I just spent three hours (granted in a bar with wifi) replying to an
super useful question from the Google Summer of Despair list. ("what are
your real priorities?")

My fear is that now that we'll get a few hundred applications along the
lines of:

"esteemed sir, my java is rock'n and I would
like to be a small cog in your mighty corporate
.com machine"

...and I'll be tempted to be briefer/ruder than is necessary/helpful.

Still your experience (granted by GSOC) is superior to ours
(semi-granted) is superior to ours. Also, Karma sometimes is what you
need not what you want.

> ** Someone even asked me to post it on jobs.perl.org*grin*

I was planning to put it on jobs.perl.org. I got my password reminder
yesterday but was distracted by meatspace concerns. It looks like you've
not posted. I will tonight or tomorrow.

> vid ॥http://svaksha.com

I've been lurking on the systers list the past year or so. We (
http://thecsl.org ) have similar goals. To my shame I've only read 1/5
to 1/10 messages. I missed your final status.

From the front page of your website, you have interest/experience in
debian packaging. If you were a student on April 25th please apply for:

http://wiki.thecsl.org/mediawiki/index.php/Pseudo_GSOC#Packaging

If you weren't a student on April 25th, please mark your self down as a
co-mentor.

The (alumni) guy in our group with packaging experience has more money
than time, so help here would be useful. My own (fearless leader)
packaging experience is that of a luser. [1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luser

#############

॥ स्वक्ष ॥

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May 24, 2011, 2:29:30 AM5/24/11
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Hi,

On Sun, May 22, 2011 at 04:48, Dan MacNeil <d...@thecsl.org> wrote:
>
[....]


>
> My fear is that now that we'll get a few hundred applications along the
> lines of:
>
>         "esteemed sir, my java is rock'n and I would
>          like to be a small cog in your mighty corporate
>          .com machine"
>
> ...and I'll be tempted to be briefer/ruder than is necessary/helpful.

Echo that. Sadly, I've been there and done the grind many times that
I've stopped counting the mails/pings that are along the lines of ::
"I want to volunteer like you in Floss so please tell me what to do?
Then, <insert personal question> and while at it let me test you L1nux
skillz with a <foobar> technical problem that you are required to
solve by private mail"

IMHO, being a FLOSS volunteer does not mean our time has no value and
people need to respect that, so I agree with your observation that
mentoring is a time-consuming and (often) un-appreciated task,
especially when people insist on asking questions that have been
answered in the wiki or documentation. TBH, I find your wiki is pretty
impressive, has a very good list of do's/dont's, has links to read for
each idea, is self-explanatory with very clear outlines on what is
expected from applicants. Besides, the process to weed out the
non-serious applicants is also clearly outlined, and anyone who has
been through the application process will definitely know what not to
do. If I may, I'd wager that the truly interested students will be
willing to walk the extra mile with a little technical help/guidance.

> I've been lurking on the systers list the past year or so. We (
> http://thecsl.org ) have similar goals. To my shame I've only read 1/5 to
> 1/10 messages.  I missed your final status.

I'm a little confused, as afaik, Systers is a private email forum for
women so I'm not quite sure if you are talking about the same list
that I posted to?!


> From the front page of your website, you have interest/experience in debian
> packaging. If you were a student on April 25th please apply for:
>
>        http://wiki.thecsl.org/mediawiki/index.php/Pseudo_GSOC#Packaging

Just wanted to quickly applaud the realistic "Difficulty:medium/hard"
tag for Packaging -- its quite contrary to common perceptions :)


> If you weren't a student on April 25th, please mark your self down as a
> co-mentor.

Thanks for telling me to apply (and reading my no-so-regular-blog :)).
I did apply for GSoC but the *only-2-slots-for-new-orgs* did me in, so
I had offered to work on it outside of GSoc, which is when it came to
light that the project ideas was in itself moot (functionality already
existed).

Well, in the meantime, I've already committed time to another Org
within the same field and although some may consider this (wanting to
work on an unpaid position instead of applying for a paid internship
opportunity) foolish, its a field I'm interested and excited about,
has great mentors, and the learning opportunities fascinates me a lot.

ciao,
--
vid ॥ http://svaksha.com

Dan MacNeil

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May 24, 2011, 12:40:42 PM5/24/11
to google-summer-o...@googlegroups.com

Somebody let me know if this chat is off topic for this list...

> Echo that. Sadly, I've been there and done the grind
> many times that I've stopped counting the mails/pings
> that are along the lines of :: "I want to volunteer
> like you in Floss so please tell me what to do?

A lot depends on your perspective, I'm fortunate (?) in that I often
have to do work, I don't know much about. I'm fairly often a newbie
approaching my seniors for help.

This experience doesn't make me a saint, but it does help me be a bit
more patient that I would be otherwise. It is sometimes too easy to
confuse knowledge or experience with merit. There are a couple times
when I've been rude and then realized that the FAQ was deficient.

Perhaps the best approach is adopt a neutral, fact based tone and point
to the appropriate place in the FAQ. Dick Haun seems to do a good job of
this on the main GSOC list.

Of course, when I'm in newbie-mode, I do try to read the FAQ, motivated
partly by past rebukes I've gotten.

>[wiki good]

At this point, maybe not good enough. To date, nobody has done the merge
request. One person has made a decent effort and I'd welcome another
try. At the moment, There is no danger of having to apply the
un-friendly procedures for quickly weeding through lots of applications.

Giving the money back is a real possibility.


> some may consider this (wanting to work on an unpaid
> position instead of applying for a paid internship
> opportunity) foolish, its a field I'm interested
> and excited about, has great mentors, and the
> learning opportunities fascinates me a lot.

It is good to be in a place where you can afford to follow your
interests. I am in close to the same place. We don't have children, my
parents are self-sufficient and my wife makes a decent wage and supports
my efforts.

If my understanding is correct, much of the world lives without clean
water or enough food on less than $2 a day. For those people our
position is a bit insulting.

In the middle is a larger group who could follow their interests but
chooses not to believe it is possible.

#################

Dan Bolser

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May 24, 2011, 1:28:34 PM5/24/11
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On 24 May 2011 17:40, Dan MacNeil <d...@thecsl.org> wrote:
>
> Somebody let me know if this chat is off topic for this list...

You're welcome to become a list admin, and adjust the topic accordingly ;-)

The idea of this list is whatever anyone determines it to be.


<snip>

> Perhaps the best approach is adopt a neutral, fact based tone and point to
> the appropriate place in the FAQ. Dick Haun seems to do a good job of this
> on the main GSOC list.

That seems to be the approach recommended by Karl Fogel in 'Producing
Open Source Software': http://producingoss.com/en/common-pitfalls.html


> Of course, when I'm in newbie-mode, I do try to read the FAQ, motivated
> partly by past rebukes I've gotten.

<snip>

>> some may consider this (wanting to work on an unpaid
>> position instead of applying for a paid internship
>> opportunity) foolish, its a field I'm interested
>> and excited about, has great mentors, and the
>> learning opportunities fascinates me a lot.
>
> It is good to be in a place where you can afford to follow your interests.
>  I am in close to the same place. We don't have children, my parents are
> self-sufficient and my wife makes a decent wage and supports my efforts.
>
> If my understanding is correct, much of the world lives without clean water
> or enough food on less than $2 a day. For those people our position is a bit
> insulting.

That seems like a good perspective. It's sad that people don't value
your efforts properly though.


> In the middle is a larger group who could follow their interests but chooses
> not to believe it is possible.

And people who are not interested.

I'd be interested to learn more about your experience being
'supported' to follow your interests. How come you haven't capitalized
on your activity? What do you think the solution is? Are you resigned
to being a 'hobbyist'?

Perhaps it's my wrong perception, but it seems like this kind of
'academic pursuit' is not finding a home in academia any more. Perhaps
it's always been this way, but it's quite depressing.


Cheers,
Dan.

॥ स्वक्ष ॥

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May 25, 2011, 1:27:23 PM5/25/11
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On Tue, May 24, 2011 at 16:40, Dan MacNeil <d...@thecsl.org> wrote:
>
> A lot depends on your perspective, I'm fortunate (?) in that I often have to
> do work, I don't know much about. I'm fairly often a newbie approaching my
> seniors for help.

I was a newbie too so I'm aware how frustrating it can be when the
docs dont have a solution or things dont work no matter what you try.
I do respond to off-list/private mails on tech and non-tech stuff but
that was not the experience I was describing. Here are some samples of
the kind to which I dont respond to privately::

In the past, I'd been keen in translating Ubuntu into Sanskrit
(usually this needs a free/GPL(?) dictionary which does not exist
afaik and is a mammoth task --companies usually employ teams to work
on this crucial aspect) and some guys contacted me off-list, the first
was a software techie who claimed to not know how to get the keymap
working on Ubuntu and we spent 2 weeks emailing back and forth till it
worked and then silence. Never replied to my mail asking if he still
wanted to work on Ubuntu so I assume he was more comfortable blogging
in Sanskrit than translating Linux strings. The second guy would email
every other line written in a different South Indian language and I
had to ask 3 different friends who knew each of those scripts to
translate it for me -- turned out to be personal questions, not Linux
related at all ; then proceeding to abuse me when I asked him to not
email me anymore and ask questions on the lists. Afaik, both these men
still dont contribute to Floss, so in essence they just wasted my
time. If they had behaved thusly on a public mailing list, you can
imagine the results yourself.

Other incidents include, a speaker at a local conf who kept insisting
that I must correspond and talk 'Linux' with a girl he was interested
by private mail only. I could go on but I'll leave you with some
incidents that I had blogged about:
http://svaksha.com/tag/sexism-in-floss
These are just some of the many examples of negative attitude and the
last I checked, F != "Freedom to be a jerk in FLOSS".


> This experience doesn't make me a saint, but it does help me be a bit more
> patient that I would be otherwise. It is sometimes too easy to confuse
> knowledge or experience with merit. There are a couple times when I've been
> rude and then realized that the FAQ was deficient.

Granted, sometimes FAQ's dont have all the information. I still trip
up on many things and I've found that it helps the person helping me
if I describes the problem in detail, the steps I tried and failed
with a link to the error-report-paste-bin -- makes it easier for
others to help me. Besides, asking in a public channel means more
pairs of eyes looking at the problem and more solutions. Isnt that
what the 'O' stands for... Open :)


> If my understanding is correct, much of the world lives without clean water
> or enough food on less than $2 a day. For those people our position is a bit
> insulting.

I live in that part of the world (India) too and I hope you are not
alluding that my choice to work on an unpaid internship means I'm
rich. Now that would be insulting and quite to the contrary, but I'll
be happy to discuss that in private, if you are interested.

That said, in India, students who are studying in an Engineering
college would typically come from a middle class (if not upper middle
class) background and the college fees, for a management quota seat,
would typically run into a few lakh Rupees. For those individuals it
is certainly not a daily wage struggle and on a general note, for
students here, working on floss has less to do with money (or the lack
thereof) after a certain point and everything to do with an
individual's choice.
Ofcourse, the motivation to contribute to floss is not a pre-requisite
to using Linux, its a choice. And I know a few Indian contributors who
have left well-paying jobs to work full-time on Floss. Its definitely
a hard struggle but that is what I meant about it being an
"individual's choice".

--
vid ॥ http://svaksha.com

Dan MacNeil

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May 25, 2011, 5:19:00 PM5/25/11
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danb>http://producingoss.com/en/common-pitfalls.html

good link. I put it on The Community Software Lab's facebook page.

danb> I'd be interested to learn more about your
danb> experience being 'supported' to follow your
danb> interests.

Again, there is danger of confusing privilege (having freedom that
enough money brings) with virtue (willingness to sacrifice a bit)
(Secular) Spiritual Pride is always a danger.

Overall, my experience is very happy. I don't know that searching for
somebody like the woman I am married to is a good strategy for other
people. :->

Sometimes it feels a little uncomfortable paying only a minority of the
bills. Sometimes this discomfort pushes me to try to reciprocate in
non-money ways which is good.

danb> How come you haven't capitalized on
danb> your activity?

To a certain extent I have. For example, I have a few side jobs, where
the bosses are generous about me showing up, or even sometimes producing
results, because they believe in our work.

To a certain extent, I've been inept about promoting myself.

To a certain extent, I don't need to capitalize (see previous notes re
generous spouse / simple needs)

danb> Are you resigned to being a 'hobbyist'?

A lot of open source is a hobby, something designed to please the people
doing the work. 'scratch your own itch'

I don't think of myself as a hobbyist since we try to make decisions
based on what is good for people we are trying to serve.

danb> What do you think the solution is?

Life got better for me when I realized the appropriate object of my
prayers for change was me.

In the short term, it is important not need respect and approval from
outsiders. Given food and a little beer money, it can be enough to have
your own approval and (ideally) that of a few comrades.

In the long term, changing society so that we have a gift economy rather
than a money economy is the answer. If technology makes it unnecessarily
for most people to work, this will be a better option than surplus
people or perpetual party.

danb> Perhaps it's my wrong perception, but it seems
danb> like this kind of 'academic pursuit' is not
danb> finding a home in academia any more. Perhaps
danb> it's always been this way, but it's quite depressing.

Our group ( http://thecsl.org ) gets pretty decent support from our
university ( http://blog.uml.edu/cs/ ) They give us office space and
pay for our phone and Internet connections.

They don't give us cash money to pay salaries or buy equipment, but they
don't make us teach classes, write papers, go to meetings, give up half
our grant money or wear funny hats at graduation, which are all things
the people who get academic money have to do.

Considering, I lack even an undergraduate degree the whole setup is
pretty generous.

Longer term, I'm not sure the current academic system will stay as it
is. The original universities were people getting together pay tutors
The boundaries between teacher and student were a bit blurred.

Centralization created ecconomies of scale and quality assurance, but
technology makes these things possible without centralization. Patches
amounting to 5,000 lines in the apache source tree is a more bankable
credential than a degree from most places.

If technology makes it possible for most people not to work, a bankable
credential is less important anyway...


########################

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