Software Freedom Day in Toronto hosted by LibrePlanet Ontario

In Toronto, there was a Software Freedom Day gathering hosted by LibrePlanet Ontario. You can see the sessions and talks list here on the SFD Wiki.

It was a good start, especially since in previous years there has been no Software Freedom Day event in Toronto. It’s actually quite amazing that Toronto has lots of meetups but is lacking on meetups and events for things like the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) and LibrePlanet (free/open source). So having a Software Freedom Day event is an amazing step forward.

The presentations and talks were all good.

One of them went through an overview of software freedom, licenses available, etc. and it was nice to see that because it’s easy to forget some of the important details when you don’t daily deal with them.

The talk by Blaise Alleyne about using free software for producing and creating music in a live performance setting was excellent. He brought in a violin, guitar, synth keyboard and plugged it all into a MIDI controller and let his Thinkpad laptop do the digital sound processing work. This was amazing to me because whenever you see or talk about digital music or production you will only ever see proprietary tools which are usually extremely expensive. Free as in speech is great but most of the software Blaise used was also free as in beer/price. So you could get to experimenting with creating music sooner (and without pretending to be a student for an education discount).

Some of the tools he used:

  • JACK
  • SooperLooper

There was a presentation on using Python, GTK and GStreamer to create a small application. What was good about this one is that it showed in under 200 lines of code you can produce something for yourself, and build upon the work of others to make something that’s exactly right for your needs and use case. Software freedom doesn’t just mean reading code or running, it means being able to build upon it for your satisfaction.

Another presentation (by me, Rudolf) discussed how open source enables open allocation and how open allocation will be the future of work. Basically, in a typical workplace, you are told what to do but it’s up to you to decide how to accomplish the task, this is known as closed allocation. With open allocation, you decide what to work on and how to work on it. Looking at open source and open allocation you get to see a vision of the future of work. When someone has a new product idea or design idea or wants to improve existing tools, they’ll go off on their own (with company approval) to go forth and implement it. Open allocation is currently practiced at software development companies like Valve and partially practiced at Red Hat and Mozilla. I’m going to write more on the subject and give a few more presentations on it as well.

There was a nice presentation about encrypting emails using GNU Privacy Guard, Thunderbird and Enigmail. We also had a key-signing (signing keys is a way of verifying identity in encryption). The setup for encrypted emails is kind of specialized and heavy-weight but it’s well worth the security especially if you’re dealing with sensitive information. If you’re Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, you’ll want to use something like GPG and Thunderbird and Enigmail extension.

Overall I think this was a success.

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