POSSE SA Day 3

Very interesting day, though not according to the schedule, but unscheduled things seemed to have struck a core on what the University should be doing really.

The current reality is that there is really not much contribution to the open source world from African Universities, South Africa included, despite the reasonable good infrastructure we have. It is just hitting home that that  the main goal of POSSE is really to get more people involved in FOSS from this side of the world. How do we get more people in Africa to contribute to FOSS?

At CPUT, we are in the process of updating the courses and debate about what we teach rages on as usual. Apparently schools are also becoming good at teaching programming languages and the question really is should Universities be teaching programming languages, as their core IT curriculum?  For example, kids in school are now being taught Java, and as with all things, that teaching is going to get better going forward. Question is: should Universities be spending their effort in teaching Java as well? Shouldn’t their effort be better spent on preparing these students to be part of the software world? Shouldn’t we be preparing our students on how to contribute to a lot of open source projects around the globe?

Why should Universities be just happy to teach programming languages which Students don’t really use as evidenced by the low contribution to software projects around the world?  Perhaps it is time for Universities to focus on addressing problems around us and the world using IT tools and skills to solve them.

Students need to be prepared on how to be part of the FOSS community. Giving students TOY “Hello World”  projects that are thrown away ( or rather archived for institutional audit) as soon as they are marked should be stopped really. Students need to be prepared on how to work collaboratively in the real world and on real projects and the FOSS ecosystem has a lot of such projects. Obvious this process needs to be thought out clearly and these are just my off the top of the head thoughts. The goal really is to make what is shown in the image below come to pass.

What can we do to make this happen?

POSSE SA Day 2

Duh, just lost my post ..anyway redoing it as

Day 2 was version control and interesting to have to look seriously at centralized and decentralized. Subversion is the defacto standard we use at CPUT and has worked well and it might be time to change next year. Certainly Git is getting traction and appearing everywhere on the web and we might have to go that way.

Git has good reports for code activities , just not sure if they come standard. You can do similar reports with SVN but you need to install plugins for reports and if you don’t host the repo, it becomes a problem. Need to check out this.

Netbeans still does not have official support Git and Kenai has Git support though. There is a NBGit plugin. Checked Eclipse , it has a Git client EGit. So we should move to Git next year and see how it works.

nice link for Git quick course from Mel http://git-scm.org/course/svn.html

Gource is another cool app we looked at. An excellent way to analyse which open source project is active making progress. I have a number of libraries I have to chose from and I think Project stability will be key. Should deploy this to to analyse a number of open source projects I depend on.

Statusnet is interesting. you can install it on your local server and works like a twitter server and has good api into other social network. Worth a serious look at

Ok Day 3 Under way

POSSE SA Day 1

Started POSSE today a, 4 day event on how to take opensource teaching to the classroom, sponsored by the guys from Red Hat. I was actually expecting a going back to Fedora experience after having jumped ship to Ubuntu, but the whole day 1 turned out surprisingly present.

It, of course , started off with the usual intro presentation from Jan, normal stuff about open source and open standards and all the politics that go with it. GPL, LGPL, Apache 2.0 GPL 3.0 .., wont go there..

It was a big surprise to just realise how IRC is actually a very useful tool for collaborating with people and just how you can manage conversations. I have always thought it was for geeks, but I think it is actually a better too for people trying to use Facebook to interact with students. Never liked FCB and I am going IRC route for my classes. Also learnt about EtherPad, you can check it here http://piratepad.net. A better way to work collaboratively on a document and record the history of how the document is developed. Awesome. Will be dumping Google Docs for sure.

The most intriguing thing about IRC was the meeting use and zodbot that takes minutes for you and below are just some of the vital commands for IRC meeting

#startmeeting     Starts a meeting. 

#endmeeting     End a meeting.
#topic   Set the current topic of discussion. 
#agreed (#agree)  Mark something as agreed on.  (Chairs only.)
#chair and #unchair  Add new chairs to the meeting. (Chairs only.) 
#action  Add an ACTION item to the minutes. 

#info Add an INFO item to the minutes
#link  Add a link to the minutes

Anyway, Day 2 should be fun tomorrow. Looking forward to it. Looks like it will be where the rubber meets the road. Check tomorrow for the update.