Do you know being in a restaurant and getting a menu which is longer than the average novel, and you cannot decide for a single meal because every single one sounds more delicious than the other? That’s similar to the problem I was having when writing this blog post… Today is the „I love Free Software“ day, on which people all over the world say „thank you“ to contributors of Free Software, often created in free time and with lots of passion.
Should authorities be allowed to make advertisement for only one company and ignore all the others? Many people strongly disagree, among them myself, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and also the CIO of the Federal Republic of Germany, the IT commissioner of the German Government. The whole story began with something we all had to read sometimes, at least subconsciously, on a website providing PDF documents: „To open the PDF files please download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Imagine you want install GNU/Linux but your bandwidth won’t let you… tl;dr: I wrote a rather small Bash script which splits huge files into several smaller ones and downloads them. To ensure the integrity, every small files is being checked for its hashsum and file size. That’s the problem I was facing in the past days. In the school I’m working at (Moshi Institute of Technology, MIT) I set up a GNU/Linux server to provide services like file sharing, website design (on local servers to avoid the slow internet) and central backups.
After two months in Tanzania and in the computer education centre I work every day I learnt a lot about the culture of the locals in terms of their viewpoint on information technology. And in the same way I had to accept that my initial mental image of the people’s behaviour was (at least in parts) very wrong. So in this article I try to explain how I see the situation of modern technologies and the usage and understanding of Free Software in the region of Tanzania where I live.
Yesterday I’ve been asked by a good friend of mine why I am investing so much time in the FSFE (Free Software¹ Foundation Europe) instead of putting more energy in other organisations with more focus on privacy issues. The background of his question is that I’m quite concerned about governmental and commercial surveillance and the lack of really private ways to communicate with each other and the impact this has on our online and offline behaviour.
“It’s Valentine’s day and you’re writing a blog post? Are you nuts?” you might ask. Well, but it’s not only Valentine’s day but also I love Free Software day. This day is proclaimed every year on February 14 by the Free Software Foundation Europe to thank all developers and contributors of Free Software (software you can use for any purpose, which source code you or others can analyze, which can be modified and distributed).
Maybe you know Yourls, a pretty cool URL shortener which you can set up on your own server very easily. Link shorteners are nice to have because you can share long links with short urls and you can view and organise all links you ever shared (incl. statistics and so on). There are many alternatives like bit.ly, ur1.ca and so on, but Yourls belongs to YOU and you don’t have to pay attention to ToS changes or the provider’s financial status.
As some of your already may know, I’m going to Tanzania for six months starting in March this year. In the city Moshi I’ll work as a volunteer computer teacher in a local institute for computer education. In the upcoming weeks and months you can hopefully see some updates and pictures on this blog. Until then I’d like to answer some frequently asked questions: Where the heck is Tanzania or Moshi?
Some days ago I noticed another time that I have far too little knowledge about Git. „Time to change that!“, I thought and set up my own Git instance and also installed gitweb for better usability. Upside 1: I can keep track of the many (mainly bash) scripts I wrote in the past and all the changes I will adopt in the future. Upside 2: You can hopefully benefit from using and reading my code.
I recently saw that the Free Software Foundation Europe is offering a new and very interesting internship position. That’s a great opportunity for every student interested in Free Software and political activism — and for me to write about my internship I completed from October 2013 until end of March 2014. Here’s a report I wrote some time ago: Starting from October 2013 I was able to work 6 months as an intern for the Free Software Foundation Europe in Berlin.