Tor Meeting Amsterdam (Report)

I was happy to be invited to the latest Tor Meeting in Amsterdam, the 2nd meeting Iwas invited to after the Seattle meeting last September. Tor Meetings, similarly to Mozilla All-Hands, are project wide meetings to discuss the current strategy and future goals of the Tor project.

Logistics

The thing is, Amsterdam is famous for exactly that what you think it is. Lots of bicycles, bridges and certain “herbs” which are popular not only among vegetarians. I was actually surprised by the great number of locals who spoke fluent English, even outside the tourist areas. I’m generally a lazy person, so I was happy to see that this time’s Tor Meeting was held at the same hotel we stayed in. As you can imagine, that was pretty helpful, as one could easily retreat and take a nap in their room if needed.

The “Hotel Arena“, which was conveniently located in a park, was built on top (and around) an abandoned church, creating an interesting mix of classic west European architecture and modern minimalist design interior. To our amusement, the main hall of the meeting was right under the chapel, offering some of the best meeting environments I ever had (after the meetings by the shore we had in Hawaii I guess). Just imagine talking about anonymous networks while looking at church murals over you, definitely a unique experience.

Photo rights belong to Hotel Arena

The Hotel was on the fancier side, which I can appreciate, however becomes a bit out of place during coffee breaks and lunch, as waiters are slowly hunting to take your dirty plates. With a bunch of hackers and anarchists it’s pretty safe to assume that a buffet and self-service drinks might be the best choice. I might appreciate that style of high/class service at certain events, but Tor Meetings are not part of that. Then again, this is nitpicking, but nonetheless something which I thought was worth mentioning.

Content

While I can’t help but compare meetings like this with Mozilla events I attended in the past, I must say that Tor meetings are quite special in that regard: They are relaxed, slow paced and mostly verbal. Of course the comparison might be a bit unfair, as the Tor Meeting welcomes around 120 attendees, while Mozilla’s All-Hands meeting goes over 1300. Interestingly, less than 10% of Mozilla All-Hands attendees are volunteers, while at the Tor meeting it’s more than 60%. I’d be happy to see Mozilla doing better next All-Hands in this regard. Furthermore, I appreciated the lack of extensive use of sticky notes, so popular among many community brainstorming meetings. It seems to work for many people, but it’s not my cup of tea I guess.

We had several breakout sessions during the days, which was helpful to gain insights into the work Tor was doing, regardless if technical, political or financial. Among them were:

  • New Tor Website Planning
  • OONI & Tor Metrics Insights
  • Implementing Tor features in upcoming Firefox releases
  • Improving the Useability tickets process
  • Improving UX in TAILS

Needless to say that some of the most interesting conversations were held on the hallway track as well, where bumping into other people sparked some great exchanges. The sunny terrace with a beautiful view of the park’s lake helped in that regard.

On a more social side, I’d have hoped to see more centrally planned evening activities, as these greatly bring people together who don’t necessarily have much in common which is greatly refreshing I believe. Sometimes I feel like there are a number of groups within Tor which tend to stick on their own as they were used to in the past. I believe that shaking this up a bit would benefit Tor’s inclusivity. I understand though that this is hard for some people, as Tor is not the average open source project, but has rather large political, legal and privacy related implications. It would be great seeing more mingling in going, but this might just be my inner introvert talking here.

It was great hanging out with the folks at OONI, who are a lot of fun, yet take their job very seriously. Their mission belongs to one of the most critical ones in the Hacktivism world, specifically measuring internet censorship in over 180 countries throughout time. It’s projects like OONI which amaze me, as their mission is a critical one which greatly benefits to the internet age nowadays.

UX Team

It was great to take part in many Design related meetings and discussions as well. We finally launched the updated Tor Brand assets, including a refreshed Tor Logo, Buttons, Banners and so much more. You can grab them on our GitHub repo.

I was grateful to be part of the Amsterdam experience with fellow members at Tor. Looking forward to the next Meeting in Montreal, Canada in Autumn!

Pse problemi i aktitiveteve është konfirmimi i pjesëmarrjes

Kam shkruar dhe vjet rreth skenës së sipërmarrjes në Shqipëri që mendoj që është bërë akoma më e panavigueshme (mëgjithëse kanë dalë dhe disa iniciativa premtuese gjithashtu). Gjithë këto faktorë kanë çuar në një fenomen që po e quaj “Ngopje Aktivitetesh” këtu. Ka aq shumë aktivitete në Tiranë rreth teknologjisë, sipërmarrjes dhe fusha të afërta, sa që njerëzit kanë filluar të hutohen çfarë duhet të ndjekin dhe çfarë jo. Sidomos me rryma të reja në teknologji ku ka mungesë informacioni dhe nuk nxjerr dot një konkluzion për përmbajtjen e aktiviteteve pa e provuar vetë njëherë.

Të kujtohet para disa vitesh kur mezi prisje një aktivitet në fundjavë? Kam përshtypjen që shumë pak njerëz kanë atë ndjesi sot, pasi ka ndonjë aktivitet diku thuajse çdo ditë. Mendoj që kjo është pjesë e procesit dhe duhet kaluar (mëgjithëse do jetë një flluskë që do shpërthëjë në një moment them). Më kujtohet kur në Open Labs organizonim aktivitete dhe nga regjistrimet mund të kishim pak a shumë një ide sa shumë veta mund të vinin. Nëse për shembull në Facebook 25 veta kanë konfirmuar pjesëmarrjen, ngjasat ishin që 15-20 veta do vinin. Ka qenë një avantazh që kanë patur të gjitha komunitetet në atë kohë, gjë që kam filluar të vlerësojë vetëm kohët e fundit. Sot ama, nuk janë të rralla rastet ku nën 50% e atyre që konfirmuan pjesëmarrjen, realisht marrin pjesë në aktivitet. Pse ndodh kjo? Kam ndjesinë që shumë njerëz konfirmojnë pjesëmarrjen në sa më shumë aktivitete për t’u siguruar që nuk humbin gjë, duke mbivlerësuar veten tejet shumë.


Por kam një thirrje këtu: Të lutem të lutem duhet evituar konfirmimi në një aktivitet nëse nuk ke realisht ndërmend të marrësh pjesë. Të organizosh aktivitete është punë tëpër e madhe dhe nuk është thjesht një lënie orari për t’u takuar në filan vend. Gjëja minimale për organizuesit është që të thoni nëse nuk vini dot. Sidomos kur aktivitetet janë komplet pa pagesë dhe kërkojnë buxhet për t’u organizuar (p.sh. për pije, ushqim dhe udhëtimin e folësve jashtë qytetit/shtetit).

Ka dhe një gjë tjetër të keqe kjo: Në raste kur një aktivitet ka më të vertëtë shumë interes, të vjen si surprizë se “Ehaa, gjysma do vijë gjithsesi në fund” dhe kur në fakt vijnë aq sa konfirmuan. Kjo duhet të ishte norma, por fatkeqësisht nuk është.

Se t’i bie shkurt; mos konfirmoni pjesëmarrjen në aktivitete kur nuk merrni pjesë. Supozohet të jetë e vetëkuptueshme kjo, por me sa duket nuk është. Morali është i thjeshtë.

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Joining the Mozilla Creative Team

A day after April Fool’s, it seems like the right time to announce the news: I’m joining the Mozilla Creative Team as a design contractor starting tomorrow.

This is a major step and honor for me to work among one of the most influential design teams in the open source industry, closely involved with community and one which strives to be as decentralized as possible, in a world where latter seems unthinkable to do. When I started contributing to Mozilla 4 years ago, I missed any opportunities to get involved on a design level within the community, regardless if Branding, UI or UX. I’m happy that nowadays the landscape is more inclusive towards community designers, where I’d like to note the major open rebranding process we undertook last year, and the launch of the Open Design repo for communities to process design requests and have monthly meetings.

With the new Mozilla brand being launched 2 months ago, a great amount of work still lies before us. Apart from applying the new visual language across Mozilla’s websites and communication channels, we have to figure out how Communities are involved with the new identity, to make it feel consistent, yet flexible and inclusive for a wide range of communities.

With the Creative Team at the All-Hands Work Week in Hawaii last year.

My work will encompass exactly this and work closer with the community to strengthen the bridge between Staff and Contributors and offer ways for design contributors to get involved in a similar manner as developers in open source. With Mozilla being one of the leading forces of diverse contributor backgrounds in open source, it completely makes sense to make this the next step.

My work will be closely tied with values we share at Ura Design and Open Source Design, which have taught me invaluable lessons in the past. I look forward to turning them into practice and update you soon on the actual projects we are working on.

Links

Mozilla Open Design Blog
Mozilla Open Design Repo
Mozilla New Brand Principles

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FOSDEM 2017 in Brussels, Belgium – Report

It feels like yesterday when I had my first FOSDEM, Yet more than 3 years passed and my 4th edition of FOSDEM is behind me as well. Throughout all 4 years I have been part of the Mozilla presence, regardless if as a Mozilla Rep, l10n contributor or Tech Speaker. I can only appreciate the great moments we shared with fellow attendees at FOSDEM. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions, sobriety, hangoverness and swag every year, and this year has been no different.

Open Source Design Group Photo at FOSDEM 2017

Open Source Design Group Photo at FOSDEM 2017

Unlike the other years, 10 people from our local Open Labs Hackerspace attended FOSDEM 2017. That’s 10 Albanians too much already.
As part of the Open Source Design collective, I have been helping out with the organization of the Open Source Design (dev)room this year at FOSDEM. I was happy to give a talk about Mozilla Open Design and the new branding of Mozilla introduced just a few weeks ago.

 

In the past year, I have been trying to not break my routine too much while traveling. Conferences are great and inspiring but it can be pretty demanding to fully emerge yourself into the conference experience if you travel frequently. As a part-time introvert, I tend to relax in my hotel for quite a few hours, at least every 2 days, something which has worked for me quite well in the past. Not at FOSDEM however.

There are way too many people you want to catch up with and way too much going on as well. With FOSDEM fringe there is also a great number of events which happen before and after FOSDEM, due to so many different projects already having presence during that week, making it easier to meet in person. I failed to meet with several people I wanted to catch up with, but it’s kind of expected at such a large event as FOSDEM.

During peak times, it was reported that 18000 devices were connected to the WiFi network. It’s a good estimate of the number of attendees at the event. Crazy indeed. The proportions of FOSDEM are immense.

There is a Survival Guide by Paul Adams I highly recommend however. If you think of attending FOSDEM next year, be prepared. It’s pretty demanding physically and emotionally, especially if you can’t get used to the feeling of “missing out”. Let me clarify it for you here:

You will miss out a lot of things at FOSDEM. You can not do much about it. Embrace it and you will enjoy it even more.

What I really dislike at FOSDEM is the lack of any relaxing zones and the limited selection of (junk) food. It is very demanding for your mind and body to not have proper food, hydration and sleep. Be prepared for that. If you plan to attend FOSDEM, try to stay an additional night in Brussels (or depart late on Monday) because you need the energy to refuel. If you think you are thick-skinned however, you should be doing quite fine.

FOSDEM post meeting with advocates from EU countries

(from left to right) me, Stefan Krastev, Matija Šuklje, Redon Skikuli, Gijs Hillenius, Giannis Konstantinidis

The day after FOSDEM, we met with some of the key players for Free and Open Source Software in the European Parliament & Commision. We had a great time talking about our experience with our local public administrations and their status regarding Free Software. We are looking forward to continue this discussions at OSCAL’17 which happens in May.

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SitePoint Albania Hackathon #1 (Report)

When I started writing for SitePoint in May 2014 I never suspected it to be much more than an ongoing gig to write technical articles for developers and designers. While that itself was a quite important factor to me (being involved in more technical matters was something I lacked as a community builder involved in technical communities), I became much more involved with the SitePoint community on different levels throughout the years. Read More

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Mozilla Tech Speakers Tirana #2 (Report)

Last April, the Open Labs Hackerspace Community got the chance to organize the very first Mozilla Tech Speaker Training, offering new and existing contributors to get in touch with Technical Resources, Public Speaking material, but most importantly, a community where you can hang out and learn things together, face to face. Read More

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Infographic: SitePoint Open Source Week

Open Source WeekAs you might have noticed, Cyber Monday also marked the end of Open Source Week at SitePoint, a week dedicated to all topics Open Source & Free Software. It has been quite a ride organizing it, especially after having learned some lessons from IoT Week organized by fellow SitePointer Patrick Catanzariti. I hope I was able to apply the lessons we had from that and improve the overall experience delivered. Having said that, there is a vast amount of tweaks and additions I have in mind for Open Source Week next year. I think we are perfecting the way we handle our thematic weeks at SitePoint and am curious to see what theme awaits us next.

But enough of thinking back. I took the liberty to create an infographic including a variety of important stats related to Open Source Week, its impact and the amount of work put in. Thanks mom for being my official coffee sponsor! Couldn’t have done it without you.

final-infographic-01

 

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Open Source Week at SitePoint

Since you stumbled across this blog, you either know me well, or know the projects I’m involved in. Keeping this in mind, you might have had to deal with anything remotely related to Open Source. opensource.com defines it in a simple manner:

The term “open source” refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.

The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs. Today, however, “open source” designates a broader set of values—what we call “the open source way.” Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.

I have been writing at SitePoint since May 2014 and working as a Community Lead since late 2015. For many years SitePoint has been a proud supporter of Open Source. Open is in the DNA of many topics we cover by design; GitHub alone is evidence enough, as it’s pretty much a standard tool for most developers nowadays.

Last year, we brought Sourcehunt to life to help potential contributors find great open source projects and vice versa. SitePoint proudly sponsored OSCAL and helped open source communities organize their own meetups as well, among the our semi-regular SitePoint Albania meetups. In fact, SitePoint itself runs on the most popular open source CMS platform. You might have heard of it — WordPress.

With IoT Week earlier this year, we had our first themed week at SitePoint dedicated to the Internet of Things. All week long, we covered the exciting cutting edge topics of the IoT scene across our channels at SitePoint. There seemed to be great interest and for many it was a conversation starter.

We were eager to organize another week like that, but this time focused on everything Open Source. Enter Open Source Week.

Open Source Week

During the week of 21st – 27th November you can immerse yourself in open sourced goodness, from a variety of channels of your liking. Over 20 handpicked articles await to be read. Just keep looking for the osw tag to stay in the loop with Open Source Week. Also, ff you want to share the love on social media, #OpenSourceWeek is the hashtag you are looking for.
Furthermore, our great JavaScript editor Jim Hibbard broke the ice with his editorial earlier this week, dedicated to Open Source Week.

So, let me not hold you any longer. Enjoy Open Source Week and remember: Sharing is Caring