Category: OpenSource

Well worth the read: The Oregonian’s coverage of the Winter Coders’ Social

It’s not often I get the chance to sing the praises of The Oregonian, but the coverage of the Winter Coders’ Social is exactly the kind of mainstream coverage this whole Portland open source community deserves.

Because much of the programming work in Portland is of the freelance or consulting nature, gatherings such as these are good for getting job leads or for simply taking a break from staring at a computer screen. But competitive Silicon Valley this isn’t. Here at CubeSpace, partygoers never get more aggressive than wearing shirts to advertise their preferred programming language — “Perl Mongers” or “Ruby Brigade.” And once the party ends at 10 p.m., plans are made to head up the street to Aztec Willies for another beer.

Silicon Florist favorites Calagator, Ward Cunningham, Selena Deckelmann, Audrey Eschright, Igal Koshevoy, and Bart Massey are all mentioned.

“The rate of change can drown you,” Eschright says. “You have to stay on top of things and get involved. Be a co-producer. Technology needs to represent who you are.”

As I’ve mentioned before, this is exactly the kind of coverage people have been asking me to pursue—shedding more light on the activities of the open source development community and user groups in the area. I’m glad to see The O beating me to the punch.

Grab a cup of coffee—or beverage of your choice—and take few minutes to read “Geekathon potlucks unite computer herd.”

Open Source Bridge: Get involved in bridging the gap

We—and I’m using the royal “we”—were all a bit taken aback when O’Reilly decided to pull the plug on OSCON in Portland.

Was it something we said? Did we no longer have the “open source” cred? What did we do? Why hast thou forsaken us?

Confusion reined.

But it was only a momentary lapse.

You see, if there’s one thing I love about Portland, it’s our entrepreneurial spirit. We weren’t just going to sit around and cry in our microbrewed beers about it. We Portlanders are going to figure out how to do something else. We’ll show them.

And true to form, here’s Open Source Bridge, a new grassroots-organized open-source-developer-oriented conference that’s slated to be held in Portland, next summer.

What are we planning? I’m glad you asked. Let me let some of the Open Source Bridge organizers tell the story:

Selena Deckelmann writes:

I love conferences. And I love Portland. Maybe you can guess what’s coming next.

During an intense brainstorming session at Side Project To Startup, a group of concerned Portlanders drew together a plan for a new conference. We packed a tiny room, and had a heated discussion about what we wanted, what Portland needed, and how we might do it. By the end of the session, Audrey Eschright and I agreed to co-chair. And with the support of Portland’s incredible tech community, we knew we could make it happen.

Audrey Eschright writes:

I am excited to be co-chairing this event. Portland is a fabulous place to be working on open source projects, and we’re the ideal community to build an inclusive, diverse conference that focuses on developers’ interests and needs.

Dawn Foster offers:

Were you sad and dismayed to hear that OSCON was moving out of Portland? Are you looking for more open source events to attend? Would you like an open source conference organized by the community? Want one more tech event to attend in July? Need an excuse (any excuse) to visit lovely Portland, Oregon in July? Do you like to help organize events for fun in your spare time?

If you answered yes to any of my obnoxious questions above, I have a great solution for you: The Open Source Bridge event.

Oh, yes. It’s on, my friend.

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some of the early planning. And there’s a great team working to make things happen.

Who?

Well Reid Beels, Professor Bart Massy, Jake Kuramoto, Kelly Guimont, Adam Duvander, and of course the folks quoted above. And the team is growing, adding Ward Cunningham, Irene Schwarting, Harvey Mathews, and Clay Neal (from the City of Portland) since our initial meetings.

Now, we need some help from you.

That’s right. You. We need you.

If this sounds like an interesting concept and you’re interested in contributing some of your time, join us at CubeSpace tonight (October 30) at 7:30 PM to take part in the Town Hall.

The Town Hall will give the organizers a chance to chat with you about the proposed event. And give you a chance to voice your opinions on what you’d like to see. It will also likely give us a chance to guilt you into helping convince you to join the cause and volunteer some time.

Can’t make it? No worries. Just make sure to let one of us know how you’d like to help.

Open Source Bridge is going to be an amazing event. I can tell, already. And I’m already looking forward to seeing you there. Even though I’m not even really sure where there is yet.

At the very least, I hope to see you at CubeSpace on Thursday, October 30.

Collaborative Software Initiative launches TriSano, an open-source means of tracking disease

TriSanoIn the world of technology, we complain about having to deal with “viruses” and “infected systems” all of the time. And, as such, we have any number of tools at our disposal for tracking, managing, and eliminating these viruses.

But what about using technology to deal with the impact of disease in the real world?

Portland-based Collaborative Software Initiative may have the answer with its newest effort, TriSano.

TriSano is designed to help communities collect and share disease information within and among communities:

To provide Public Health organizations freedom and choice when tasked with making an applications decision to support their communities. We offer the opportunity to scrap the monolithic development process and custom built solutions traditionally provided through system integrators and traditional software companies. Our suggestion: engage in the power of community building and open source technology to solve complex health technology challenges for the good of public health.

It’s like your own private Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, Utah already has plans to go live on TriSano.

But Dana Blankenhorn sees TriSano reaching much farther than that:

TriSano is written in Ruby. Rather than building 75 forms, TriSano built a form-builder. The system can be maintained by doctors, regulators, or through TriSano in the form of Software as a Service.

What it means is a faster, flexible, less-expensive system for creating and maintaining infectious disease reports. Utah will train its people first, CSI will seek to roll it out nationwide, and everyone (including you) will reap the benefits.

For all the appreciation I have for cool Web 2.0 tools, they remain—quite often—a frivolous applications of technologies that hold unlimited potential. And that’s why it’s especially exciting to see a local company tapping into that potential for the greater good of humanity.

Collaborative Software Initiative was founded in 2007 by Stuart Cohen, a veteran IT executive and former chief executive officer at the Open Source Development Labs. Cohen has partnered with Evan Bauer, financial services technology veteran and former chief technology officer at Credit Suisse, to bring together like-minded companies to build software applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. The company introduces a market-changing process that applies open source methodologies to building software collaboratively. For more information, visit Collaborative Software Initiative.

Think Out Loud about open source

OPBI got an interesting call this week from Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). Specifically from the Think Out Loud team. They knew that OSCON was in town this week and they were interested in doing a show on open source.

“Oh! No problem,” I said. “I can recommend plenty of really, really smart people to whom you can speak.” (Because I always try to use proper grammar, no matter how antiquated it may sound.)

So I did just that, recommending they talk to folks like Raven Zachary, Scott Kveton, and Audrey Eschright.

And sure enough, they talked to those folks. And I know that most of them—if not all of them—will be appearing on Think Out Loud live, this morning at 9 AM.

Do you buy the argument that if you want to make a living as a programmer in Portland, open source software is both a blessing and a curse?

Are you a part of the movement more broadly? What’s your take on where it came from, where it is now, and where it’s going? What lessons does the open source philosophy have for life outside the digital world—for research, or business, or democracy?

Great! Should be a really interesting show, right?

Well, yes. But with one slight hitch.

“We want you on there, too,” they said.

Um. People get to read me thinking out loud practically everyday. Do they really need to hear me thinking out loud, too?

Well, apparently, according to OPB, they do.

So, I’d appreciate your tuning in, this morning at 9 AM. To hear what these truly interesting proponents of open source have to say.

And maybe, just maybe, you could ask those intelligent guests some really interesting and detailed questions? I mean, I’d be willing to give you some of my time. In fact, why not head over to Think Out Loud—right now—to post your open source questions?

(Oh, so you think it’s humorous that I got roped into this gig? Then you’ll love this. I’m honored to be the guest on Strange Love Live, tonight, too. Let’s just call this freaky Friday.)

OSCON: Etelos provides a marketplace for open source apps

Every once in a great while, I cover a company that doesn’t really “live” in Portland or the Silicon Forest. And I generally don’t do that—there are plenty of other resources that do that sort of thing far better than I—unless it has to the potential to influence what we’re trying to accomplish around here.

Etelos has that potential. And I got the chance to sit down with them at OSCON yesterday.

What’s the story? Well, Etelos provides a way of marketing and distributing open source apps for those folks who don’t have any desire to deal with marketing and sales.

Sound like someone you know? I thought it might.

And I think their marketplace idea might appeal to some of you.

The Etelos MarketplaceTM gives developers an easy place to license, distribute and support applications. The Etelos Marketplace also gives businesses a wide selection of fully customizable, on-demand business applications to license and deploy to the hosting environment of their choice.

“You take care of the code,” said Ahmad Baitalmal. “And we’ll take care of the rest.”

What’s that? Yes, yes, I hear you. “Why can’t I just do that with my current host?”

Simple answer? Instead of eschewing customization, these guys seem to thrive on it. They’re built so that every app gets exactly the environment it needs.

Let’s say you need an environment running PHP 5 with the latest Zend framework and MySQL 4.2 and you need it running with a certain amount of memory at its disposal. If you’re dealing with a traditional host, you just began a very lengthy conversation. And you just became a sysadmin instead of a developer. Not exactly where you want to be.

But with these guys, start throwing those specs at them and the response is likely “Okay.”

And you don’t have to be interested in selling your app. This may just be your distribution method.

Take for instance an idea that Justin Kistner has been discussing for some time that I like to call the “RedHat of WordPress.” The concept is based on the idea that every time you install a new WordPress blog—or every time you build a new environment for a client—you have to take an arduous journey of installing and updating every plugin you liked from your last installation. So what if—thought Justin—what if there was a “build” of WordPress that came with everything you needed and only one codebase to maintain that anyone could grab when they needed?

Etelos would be a great way to support that kind of distribution.

Or maybe you’ve built something you want to sell. Like the backbone for social mapping applications or the technology to aggregate calendars online or something.

Etelos could likely help you there too. They’d do all of the marketing and deal with the buying and selling. And all they’d take is a little cut of the revenue.

It’s an interesting concept that takes me back to the days of “shareware” distribution points like download.com and Tucows.

Back in the day, these download sites were incredibly popular place to find the latest in new and interesting software. They became destinations because of the variety of applications that they offered.

Etelos seems to have this same potential. And could serve a very similar role for open source apps.

It will be interesting to see if they can achieve that sort of notoriety. For both their company and the products they promote.

If you’re a developer who just wants to code and leave the business stuff to someone else? Etelos may be just what you needed.

For more information or to try Etelos for yourself, visit Etelos. Or if you’re at OSCON, swing by the Etelos booth to get a demo of their services.

OSCON: Concrete5 demo tonight

I just received word that Portland’s Concrete5, one of our favorite content management systems, will be presenting tonight at OSCON.

What’s that? You thought Concrete5 was commercial software…? Yeah, well it was. Until recently.

Concrete CMS was first developed in 2003 as commercial enterprise software. Headquartered in Portland, OR, the Concrete team had always been proponents and enthusiastic users of open source, but until this year had only released full source code to their clients for a fee. Now at O’Reilly OSCON 2008, concrete5 will be released to the public under the MIT License, a popular and nonrestrictive open source license.

The session will be held tonight (Monday, July 21) at the Oregon Convention Center, E143/144, at 7:00PM.

What’s Concrete5?

 

concrete5 is a PHP/MySQL based CMS that is easy for site owners to use, flexible for developers to work with, and is simply the new version of our enterprise level solution that powers such sites as Lemonade.com, Indie911.com, and LewisAndClark200.org to just name a few. After years of being evil software guys, we’ve seen the light and have gone fully open source.

We’ll give a tour of why and how c5 was put together and what it’s doing well today. We’ll quickly install and build out a small site, and then we’ll get into some geeky stuff and do questions.

For more information, see the OSCON listing for the Concrete5 demo.

OSCON 2008: Prepping for Portland, Oregon

Portland skyline at night

We here in Portland, Oregon, like to think of our town as the de facto hub of open source and open web technologies. I mean, Linus Torvalds lives around here, so does Ward Cunningham.

And, that’s not all. We’ve got the OpenID contingent with Vidoop and JanRain, too. What’s more, Portland is home to a bunch of cool open source shops and developers. Oh, and don’t forget, we used to host RailsConf, too.

But there’s one little get-together that causes our collective open source head to swell ever so slightly. And that event is just around the corner.

OSCON 2008, the premiere open source conference, will be again gracing Portland with its presence, beginning July 21. And with it, thousands of open source types will be descending upon town. No doubt, many of them will be wondering, “What the heck am I supposed to do when I’m not in sessions?”

Have no fear, open source aficionado! There are a few activities with which you can keep yourself entertained, a handful of establishments where you can slake your thirst, and a joint or two where you can get your fill of vittles.

As you’re planning your trip to Portland, here are some links that might help:

  • Hacking PDX: A geek’s guide to Portland International Airport
    “We have a great airport with plenty of features that just about any traveler could need. But, despite all its ease-of-use, there are always a few tips-and-tricks that make the experience that much better.”
  • Falling in love with Portland, again and again
    “This is the beginning of a fantastic renaissance period for Portland. It’s such a vibrant, eclectic, talented and diverse city with so many things going on, that it inspires the mind and spirit around every corner you turn.”
  • Amy Winkelman says “Hi Vidoop, Welcome to Portland!” (An extensive primer on the Rose City)
    “As a native Oregonian and fanatic Portlander, I love recommending things to new folks visiting the city.”
  • What to do in Portland while you’re at RailsConf (or OSCON)
    “If you’re attending RailsConf this year and are from out of town, you might be like me when you’re in another city: I don’t really find much outside of the touristy areas, or what’s immediately around where I’m staying. But you’re in luck! I live here in Portland, Oregon and I have a list of places to go and things to do that I think are quintessential Portland.”
  • Portland’s top 30 tech Twitter-ers
    “And that got me thinking. I began to wonder: Who is at the top of the Twitter heap when it comes to Portland startup and tech types? Who has the most ‘influence’? Who is the holder of the mythical ‘Twitter juice’?”

Still feel like you need some help? Drop a comment here, or feel free to ping me on Twitter. Or look for me at OSCON. I’d be happy to answer any Portland questions for you.

Whatever your question, rest assured that Portvangelists are standing by.

Photo courtesy Matt McGee used under Creative Commons.

Will Openfire Enterprise going Open Source be good news for Jive Jabber/XMPP work?

And the hits just keep on coming from Portland-based Jive Software. As if their “new Clearspace plus a new site plus acquiring Jotlet” announcement wasn’t enough, they’ve also decided to announce that Openfire Enterprise is now truly becoming an open-source product.

What’s Openfire Enterprise?

Openfire Enterprise addresses the Enterprise Instant Messaging (EIM) market by adding rich reporting, archiving, and control features on top of Openfire.

Okay, so what’s the whole “open source” move mean?

Well, it means a couple of things.

First—and most importantly for open-source advocates—it means that some of Jive’s Jabber/XMPP work has been officially extricated from quasi-proprietary muck which may have prevented more widespread adoption and development. At least, that’s what Jive (and I) hope:

One of our hopes with this move is that the last possible objection to deploying XMPP-based instant messaging at every organization in the world is now removed. Now, everyone will have access to an open standards solution that satisfies all the needs of IT departments… for free. We think that’s great news for the community and getting our technology deployed even more widely is good for Jive Software as well.

Second—and most importantly for Jive as a company—it means that Jive is taking a decided step toward focusing on its Clearspace product by giving the open-source community control of Openfire Enterprise. While Jive will still be looking to drive revenue with Openfire Enterprise by integrating it into Clearspace, they won’t be juggling the two products in terms of managing the overall development.

Maybe it’s just me, but from an entrepreneurial, open-source, geeky frame of mind this announcement is by far the most exciting news coming out of Jive, today.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

(Hat tip Dawn Foster)

Monitoring the pulse of Open Source

Impressed by the Pulse of PDX tool that gives anyone—whether they use Twitter or not—a view into what Portland-based Twitter types are saying, Raven Zachary saw an opportunity to provide a similar view into what the Open Source proponents are saying on Twitter.

The result? The Pulse of Open Source.

Lisa Hoover of Download Squad sees it as a stab at Twitter groups and deems the Pulse concept—appropriately—“cool”:

Twitter doesn’t have a grouping feature yet (even though they said 7 months ago it was “at the top of their list”) but that hasn’t stopped a group of open source aficionados from finding a way to form one anyway. Five Twitterers including SourceForge’s Ross Turk and open source analyst extraordinaire Raven Zachary launched The Pulse of Open Source today, calling it a “collective stream of consciousness from the open source community.” We just call it “cool.”

And Portland’s Marshall Kirkpatrick takes the concept even further in his Read/Write Web coverage of the Pulse concept:

With a little editorial judgment, this model could work well for any number of niche topics. Integration to display recent bookmarks on social bookmarking sites and blog posts wouldn’t be difficult either. Think of it as an industry-centric version of social lifestreaming, instead of a user centric one as is more common these days. I think both models are fascinating.

Wouldn’t that be interesting? I think so. And I see Portland continuing to innovate on how Twitter, as a platform, will be used.

Open Source Software meeting of the minds

Today, I had the privilege of sitting in on an Open Source meeting of the minds at OTBC, where a sizable contingent of folks from the Open Source community in Japan—programmers, entrepreneurs, professors, reporters—shared their vision for establishing a Mecca for Ruby enthusiasts—and a hub for Open Source—in Japan.

The bulk of the Japan team heralds from Matsue, a town on the north end of the main island in Japan. They are in the midst of developing the “Ruby City MATSUE Project,” a concentrated effort to make Matsue the “Mecca of Ruby.” The OSS Society Shimane also works in conjunction with the project to promote Open Source and Ruby.

Much like the efforts around the Portland-area Open Source scene, the MATSUE project is working to foster community building around codefests and the sharing of ideas on how to apply Open Source technologies.

The community is also lucky enough to have a university that provides a full semester load of undergraduate course work on Ruby, Rails, JRuby, and applying the technologies.

Besides their dedication to and focus on this effort, the group also commands some substantial geek-cred from the participation of Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, one of the original developers of the Ruby language, who is a resident of the town.

After spending today with the OTBC and dinner with the Portland Ruby Brigade, tonight, the Matsue contingent will head down to Corvallis to visit with the Oregon State Open Source Lab.

So what’s the Silicon Forest angle here?

An hour into the meeting, the two sides of the table were already pitching ideas back and forth. Sharing concepts and benefits of pursuing Open Source development.

And that’s a thing—I’d like to think—that we’d be very happy to keep going.

This is the first—of hopefully many—meetings of the minds between the Portland Open Source community and the Matsue Open Source community that, with any luck, will develop into a “sister city” arrangement to foster both of our communities’ continued learning and development.

The next time these folks are back in town, I’d highly encourage trying to meet up with them.

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