Posts Tagged Open Source

POSIT: UCOSP Team Blog Post

Hi, I am Stanley Fung. I am a 4th year Computing Science student from Simon Fraser University. I am currently working on POSIT as part of the UCOSP team for the Fall Semester. I choose to work on POSIT because I think it has a lot of potential to benefit others on an engaging technology and platform.  I appreciate the idea that the user interface and workflows have a huge impact on real users who come from a range of backgrounds. This is one thing I try to keep in mind while working on POSIT.

For the first half, of the project I have been mainly testing the application and creating patches for bugs. Through these helpful exercises, I have gotten familiar with many aspects of the application. This was especially useful since I am completely new to the Android environment. Many times, simple tasks became important introductions to core Android concepts. I feel that slowly absorbing in the project is less overwhelming then suddenly diving in. With every task, I gain more knowledge about how Android applications work, and how POSIT works. It is also a good way to contribute to the project and gaining intimate knowledge on how application is currently working. I feel that through the testing, I gained some insight on what functionality the current application can benefit from and I carry this knowledge onto the next phase.

During the last two weeks, I have working on creating my own feature for the project. My primary goal is to create a useful and functioning extension to the project. My current idea is to enable expose Finds to more casual stakeholders who might not be actively checking through the POSIT applications. The foundation I have built in the first two months is helping me towards this goal.

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Random Hacks of Kindness New York City

On December 4 and 5, in over twenty locations around the world,  Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and The World Bank hosted the third Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), an  initiative to bring together volunteer software developers and experts in disaster risk management for a weekend-long “hackathon” to create software solutions to aid humanitarian organizations address some of their most pressing challenges, to help those in need around the world.

Ralph Morelli and Trishan de Lanerolle, drove down to attend the New York City RHoK event, hosted at Parsons the New School for Design. The event was kicked off with a reception hosted by the United Nation’s Global Pulse Initiative, with the UN Secretary General Banki Moon in attendance.  Below is a video extract of the  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s keynote speech during the RHoK NYC reception.  He highlighted the convergence of two complementary movements: participatory development and open source technologies. “Both movements have a common denominator,” he stated, and “because people have a sense of ownership, what is created is more sustainable and effective. It empowers people at the grassroots to build solutions to their own problems.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the RHoK Reception co-hosted Global Pulse

The following morning, the hackathon was kicked off with participants given overviews of a set of problem definitions, created by NGO’s, governments and experts in the field. Teams of volunteer technologist  coalesced around these problem definitions and spent the remainder of the weekend working on building  solutions, either from the ground up or using existing technologies. All the solutions from design concepts, source code to fully functional applications are released to the broader community, under a suitable OSS license. The complete list of projects worked on during RHoK New York and other global sites can be found on the RHoK Wiki.   At the close of the hackerthon, teams present the technologies they developed and the best “Hacks” of the weekend were judged and selected at the various locations.

Ralph and I met with the Sahana project team,  and I got an opportunity to work with them on Saturday.  It was great to see  the team in action working on a new module manager and database optimization for the Sahana Agasti  Mayon development branch. The Sahana RHoK contingent in NYC was lead by Chad Heuschober, from CUNY , who has a a great blog post on the groups accomplishments over the weekend at “It’s Only RHoK’n Roll, But I Like It” and for complete coverage of Sahana’s global present at RHoK check out Mark Prutsalis’s post on Sahana Situation Room.

We were able to get our hands dirty contributing to the Incident Commander project, lead by John Reilly, from Google,  to build an Android application that allows firefighters and other emergency response personnel to track incident responders and their needs in real time. Over the course of the weekend, we had built a functional android application, that used SMS messages to send and receive data, from alerts to location coordinates between  mobile devices and an app engine based web server. We were able to reuse some code snippets developed by Chris Fei,  for Sahana and POSIT. Chris, an HFOSS Alumni now, joined us in person on Sunday, he and I attended the first RHoK event back in November 2009 in Mountain View California.

Incident Commander Android Application Interface

Incident Commander Android Application Interface

  Incident commander team

Incident commander team (Shayne Adamski, Aidan Feldman,Trishan de Lanerolle,John Reilly (Team leader), Kane Albarron, Ralph Morelli, PJ Herring and Jason Lindesmith (absent from photo)

Incident Commander went on to jointly win “First Place” with TaskMeUp, developed by Nicolas di Tada, et al.  We were awarded a Windows 7 Mobile phone and $100 cash prize for our efforts. The irony of receiving a windows phone for a developing an android application was not lost on the judges and audience. The team unanimously voted to give the phone to our lead programmer PJ Herring, and the cash prize to charity.

Overall it was a great experience, from  working with an award winning team of individuals to spending the weekend with like minded technologists, brought together with the mission of bettering humanity. We have come away reinvigorated and look forward to building on the work started during RHoK 2.0 and following up with the connections made during the event. We are also interested in hosting  a RHoK event in Hartford.

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Hackontest — 24 hour coding marathone

As announced on Slashdot, a 24 hour free software coding contest known as Hackontest will pit free and open source projects against one another. As of today there are 180 users 34 registered projects, including Sahana and OpenMRS, two of the projects that our summer internship program is supporting.

The goal of the Google-sponsored contest is “to enhance Free Software projects according to user needs and to make visible how enthusiastically open source software is being developed.”

Here’s how it works. Users and developers of FOSS submit, rate, and comment on submit feature requests. On August 1 a jury of well known FOSS contributors will pick the top three teams who will be flown to Zurich for the September 24/25 contest. The contest will be part of Open Expo, the Swiss conference and trade show for Free and Open Source Software. The teams will compete for 24 hours inside an etoyTANK, a hacking equipped cargo container, complete with pizza–of course. Visitors to the Expo will be able to observe the teams and the computer screens and team members will be able to communicate with virtual team members throughout the world, I guess. A total of $8500 in prizes will be awarded.

Sounds like fun!

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Microsoft gets bright spark to give away their development tools to students

According to a AP release “Microsoft giving away developer software” Microsoft is letting students download their development studio and server applications for free. Is it a strategic move attempting to position themselves against the trend of web developers going with the free open source LAMP stack or an additional choice for web developers, as Bill Gates explains in the article.

“Gates said students will want to try Microsoft’s tools because they’re more powerful than the open-source combination of Linux-based operating systems, the Apache Web server, the MySQL database and the PHP scripting language used to make complex Web sites.”

Will this have an impact on the open source movement? Would this simply expand the options available for development. Once the application is developed could it be distributed under an open source license, or would the embedded Microsoft technologies pose a stumbling block. According to a Computer world.com article: Analysis: Popularity of open-source, Adobe tools on campus prods Microsoft’s giveaway to students. the free software is intended for educational purposes, and not for commercial software development or software-for-hire basis. The article goes on to quote Joe Wilson, Microsoft’s senior director of academic initiatives for developer and platform evangelism.” But Microsoft has no plans to enforce those terms, Wilson said.” Would this pose a threat to open source development platforms such as JavaBean from Sun or IBM supported Eclipse. Time will tell.

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