Visit to FOSDEM 2016

Screencapture from the FOSDEM home page
Screencapture from the FOSDEM home page

Here’s my report on visiting FOSDEM in Brussels last Saturday. The “Free and Open Source Developer European Meeting” is basically a mix between a 10.000 geeks, Free/Open Source Software projects, enterprise solutions and a sense of community descending on the Universite Libre Bruxelles (ULB) for a weekend. I really like FOSDEM for the atmosphere, interesting talks and it’s of course close by. I usually go for a single day to check out what’s happening. The talks range from showcases of:

  • Open source projects, (both large and small)
  • Using, designing and creating Open Source Software
  • Open Source protocols
  • Communities amongst projects and users
  • Maintenance of ancient hardware and software
  • Hardware, Internet of Things
  • Licensing and legal
  • Configuration management
  • Testing and Test Automation
  • Business aspects of Open Source Software
  • Lightning talks (You get 15 minutes of fame, answer 1 question and next.)
  • And a whole lot more.

You can also view all the lectures via the video archive, but it wouldn’t be the same.

IMG-20160130-WA0003This year FOSDEM occurred on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January 2016. I went together with 4 other people from hackerspace TDvenlo (Tjeerd, Gijs, Harm, Panos and Me) The main observation of the event was that the event is getting quite packed for a weekend, but still is loads of fun. We needed to drive to Brussels at 07:00h from Venlo because the introduction already started at 09:30h. The opening used to occur an hour later and this year there were 28 DEVrooms and almost 700 talks. (On twitter @FOSDEM and #FOSDEM) View photos for #FOSDEM on twitter via this link.

FOSDEM has grown quite a lot the last couple of years. It used to be 5000 visitors, I think it’s now more than 10.000 over the whole weekend. Maybe it should scale to more days. But then the University of Brussels (ULB) would probably stop hosting the event. It’s a really old building, but with a lot of atmosphere. Really like a Belgian organisation would take care of it. The scene looks crummy, but the event is great. More on future visits later.

My favourite talks for the day that I was able to visit:

  • Alidron: A distributed control system for the Internet of Things
    A nice talk about creating an autoconfigurable control system for IoT devices. With nice demonstrations and examples for hardware platforms. The really liked the Spirit 1 platform from ST. And they look like a good start if you don’t want to ess on the 2.4 GHz bands.
  • Inside H2O: Nice lecture on how to create a big MapReduce implementation based on Java across several JVM’s for really large datasets. I guess that H2O focusses on the researchers that need a simple interface and can afford extra hardware to run all their data in several JVM’s. Also keep everything as simple as possible. Because the people using it, do really complex stuff with H2O.
  • GNU Radio for Exploring Signals: A good technical in depth talk on GNU radio and processing FM radio. Brought back a lot of memories from University. What it can do and why it’s cool. I still have the rad1o from the Chaos Communication Camp 2015 lying around. Looks like a nice project to mess around with.
  • Libreboot – free your BIOS today!: This was quite an interesting talk from a free software approach. The most famous open source BIOS currently available is called Coreboot. But according to the Libreboot guys it has 2 problems. You need to build it from sources and it isn’t packaged. The other problems concerns that it uses binary blobs. The speakers was quite militant on using only Free software. Which limits the number of available hardware considerably. The speaker talked a bit like a sort of proto Richard Stallman. Which always reminds me: In the end Stallman was right. (But you didn’t have a working solution in the mean time.)
  • How to run a telco on free software: This was an interesting talk by Red Hat on how they try to use modern aspects of networking and virtualisation to replace the old big iron hardware that’s currently used by telecom operators. It is interesting because Open source is now invading telecom from the corporate and hacker side. The hacker side consisting of OpenBTS and creating a GSM network using pico cells and Ethernet. The talk also featured the “Value Trumpet”. Price and service used to scale linearly, but in the last 20 years they’ve moved apart. People expect more delivered value, for a lower price. Which makes this a really competitive market. So creating a new solution using virtualisation to replace all the old servers across different vendors and telco’s becomes a big deal.
  • TLS and SIP – what works and what doesn’t?: This talk became a really nice surprise. Although it came at the end of the day at 18:00h, it had an interesting speaker, interesting topic, small devroom where there was lots of interaction. The gist of the talk consisted of: SIP and TLS don’t work together because the client has different domain names via NAT and it would need a new certificate for each different subnet. XMPP does a better job of this by keeping the established connection open. WebRTC looks like how it should be done. There is still a lot of work to do, in order to get secure calls via internet on an open protocol that does not go via a telecom connection.

These where the talks that I visited and are worth going back for. However a lot of the most interesting rooms were occupied. It looks like ULB is becoming too small for doing this and keeping the event free/gratis. However, if you look beyond the talks and go for the ambiance, people, stands, obscure projects and lighting talks. It really is a one of a kind event.

I really like the smaller devrooms from time to time. You really see the interaction between people that normally meet online and now meet face to face. People don’t start calling each other names. Occasionally you have funny interesting interaction with the audience, because it’s half the project in a single room.

The stands were also great to visit. The Owncloud stand showed the fruits of their collaboration with Western Digital in making a home made kit using a Raspberry Pi and a 2.5″ 1TB drive for your own home server. There was also a stand with a home built laptop using 3D printed parts, and Allwiner A10 or A20 mainboard and cardboard.

IMG_20160130_131630
Owncloud home server kit.
3D printed, Allwinner A10 module and cardboard laptop.
3D printed, Allwinner A10 module and cardboard laptop.

One of the other things I missed was Bitcoin and Blockchains. Only 1 of the 700 lectures mentioned bitcoin. On the other hand, decentralization, databases, high availability, privacy and communication were represented at FOSDEM a plenty. (View my presentation on the subject for more info.) With 10 billion USD pouring into Bitcoin and Blockchains, I think this will catch FOSDEM’s attention next year.

The main tracks are also cool, if they have an interesting topic and a great speaker. FOSDEM occasionally drops the ball by putting a mediocre presenter in front of 1500 people or the audio is crap. Which I think wastes a lot time for a lot people. The opening speech on Systemd was quite interesting, but the audio was too quiet. Which made it quite hard to follow the presentation. The talks by Andrew Tanenbaum and Eben Moglen from a couple of years ago remain engraved inside my memory. (Now I see on Twitter, that Stallman was present at FOSDEM. Too bad that I’ve missed it.) But FOSDEM shows that Open Source software is doing really well, growing and can do everything.

To accommodate the growth of FOSDEM and optimize our experience, this will probably become our strategy for visiting next year. Go to the devrooms that make FOSDEM great, enjoy yourself with other people and watch the rest on video. So that basically means go to the main tracks, obscure devrooms, the bar and the stands. Also try to avoid the material that you work with on a day to day basis. That makes sure that you learn new stuff. Sometimes I’m thinking: “We used to do it this way 10 years ago.” When the videos are online, organize a viewing event with the local hackerspace with some of the other people there.

All in all, we had a blast of a time at FOSDEM. We will surely visit next time in 2017.

Some reposts about refugees (vluchtelingen) and our way of living in the EU.

Around a week ago the discussions about refugees started to heat up in the EU and in The Netherlands. In the Mediterranean people drowned and in the Netherlands we performed a lot of navel gazing¬† on “Bed, Bath and Bread”.

One of the best pieces on calling out the Dutch provincial closed¬† mindedness came from The Economist. They published an article called “Bed, Bath and Begone” and called out our own hypocrisy¬† in the Netherlands. Never to waste a good criticism, I posted this article on Reddit in /r/theNetherlands to get something of a discussion going. This worked out quite well and raised some good insights. Out of this discussion 2 posts stood out. One was in English calling out all the non-refugees and abusing our hospitality. The other one was in Dutch and mentioned that he didn’t understand much about the local situation.¬† Both articles warranted an answer from me. Also based on a discussion that Vinay Gupta had with Paul Currion on the Ikea shelter. (view via conweets)

I thought that it would be beneficial to repost both these answers on my blog in order to increase the audience (and to have a better way of finding my content back.) I’ll first show the Dutch one and then the English one. That way the posts fit in an outside-in view of how everything fits together.

BTW, this whole discussion is now snowed under due to the Nepal earthquake. If you want to donate to a local organization with boots on the ground via Bitcoin or Paypal. Look up http://www.scfnepal.org/

Post 1

Based on post by /u/cruzz903:
Ik zelf niet zoveel verstand van de situatie maar volgens wat ik gezien heb, gaat het meer om dat deze mensen moeten mee werken om terug naar hun land te gaan. En anders worden ze gewoon op straat gezet. Is dat niet hetzelfde wat australie doet? Volgens mij is dat ook wel een redelijke offerte. Natuurlijk is het idee dat er geen vluchtelingen meer verdrinken. Maar ik denk dat europa zelf wel genoeg geld heeft om wat maatregelen in plaats te zetten.

My Answer:
tl;dr Die mensen zijn hier en kunnen niet allemaal zomaar terug. Verder hebben we er in het verleden en heden in die landen een grote puinhoop van gemaakt en ze willen ook graag meedoen met alle goede dingen die we hier hebben.

Laat me proberen mijn idee√ęn over de achtergronden uit te leggen. Het grote probleem blijft dat die mensen niet meer terug kunnen omdat hun originele landen, ze niet meer willen hebben.

Er bestaan zat idee√ęn om het vreemdelingenbeleid humaner te maken. Alleen willen we daar niet aan. Want dan word de grote muur rond Fort Europa pas echt zichtbaar. Nu kunnen we het nog een beetje onder de pet houden.

De grootste leugen bij vluchtelingenbeleid blijft dat we er van uitgaan dat mensen weer terug naar huis gaan. Dus we hebben nu wereldwijd 60 miljoen mensen in kampen zitten die al 20 jaar bestaan. Zonder dat ze hun eigen bestaan kunnen opbouwen en afhankelijk blijven van de internationale vluchtelingenhulp industrie.

Dat er ook zoveel economische vluchtelingen deze kant opkomen, komt door de puinhoop die we na de kolonisatie hebben achter gelaten. Terwijl we die landen nu nog alleen economisch koloniseren. Op het moment dat ze iets van hun eigen land willen maken dan zadelen we ze op met schulden, organiseren we een coup of elimineren hun leiders. Al doet Nederland het tegenwoordig wat geniepiger. Zie bijvoorbeeld Shell in Nigeria. Tegenwoordig gebruikt de ook nog drones om de lokale ‘opstandelingen’ onder de duim te houden en ervoor te zorgen dat ze hun grondstoffen niet nationaliseren.

Dit levert Nederland een groot probleem op met de toestroom van vluchtelingen en het herbergen van deze mensen. Die mensen die nu verdrinken in de Middellandse Zee is eigenlijk nog maar het topje van de ijsberg. Als ze eenmaal hier zijn, dan zijn ze ook meteen een stuk zichtbaarder. Vandaar ook de huidige provinciale one-issue discussie. Het leid weer zo lekker af van de grote werkelijke discussie.

Hoe dit op lange termijn gaat eindigen weet ik niet. Op lange termijn is de kans groot dat we Fort Europa gaan verstevigen. En daarna de mensen die niet meer terug kunnen gaan herbergen in ‘thuislanden’ in Polen of Spanje. (Al vind ik Ter Apel daar ook al op lijken.) Of we laten ze allemaal toe en doen ons best ze te assimileren.
Op korte termijn zal de VVD toch in het stof bijten op landelijk niveau. Zoals Rita Verdonk al zei: “Afspraak is afspraak.” en de rechter heeft gesproken.

Daarentegen heeft de landelijke politiek toch al minder te zeggen als vroeger, want we gingen alles bij de gemeentes neerleggen in het kader van decentralisatie. Nu moeten gemeentes iets praktischer werken dan de regering. Ze hebben die mensen rondzwerven en die gaan niet zomaar weer weg.

Al met al is het geen makkelijke discussie en het hele BBB is maar een klein onderdeel van een groter mondiaal probleem.

Zo, dat was weer een heel verhaal.

P.S.: Peter Breedveld heeft er ook nog een stukje over geschreven van dezelfde strekking.
Hun eigen problemen

Post 2

Based on post by /u/teh_fizz
Thank you for the article. This outs things in a different perspective.

I really don’t see what the fuss is about. Syrian asylum seekers that have been rejected are rejected on a few bases:

They don’t have any proof that they are Syrian. There was an Egyptian that arrived in my batch, as well as Iraqis, and a couple were trying to pass as Syrians.

They have been finger printed and registered in another European country, so my the Dublin Regulation accord, the Netherlands has the legal right to evict these asylum seekers.

They support the Assad regime or what fought with an army or a political side.

From what I understand, it is illegal to evict an asylum seeker back to his country, or at least in the particular case of Syria. This makes things trickier for everyone. Where do they get sent? I met a few Syrians that would leave the reception centers only to come back 9 months later and apply all over again.

The Netherlands has in all intents and purposes been more than hospitable towards asylum seekers. I met some of the most amazing social workers while staying in a COA centre, and it became understandable why the Dutch are getting angry over asylum seekers wanting more. Really, stayed in rooms that were like dorm rooms. We even had a small TV in some of them. They all came with heating and warm water. The only issue was the boredom that you feel while waiting to be processed.

Now I am angry because all these asylum seekers aren’t complying with the country that welcomed and hosted them while they were getting processed. Not even a thank you.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. A lot of asylum seekers are coming from countries deemed safe by the Netherlands, but they might still have some instability.

The question becomes, what does the Netherlands do? There are people coming in needing real help. Do they just ignore all of them? Maybe the Netherlands should change its policy. Malta doesn’t give any long term residencies like the Netherlands. They only offer protection, such as bed, bath, and bread, until you can go back to your country. A lot of the asylum seekers end up leaving voluntarily because they have no hope of settling down. Maybe the Dutch should being so welcoming and just offer protection like Malta.

My anser:
Thank you for the elaborate answer.

The biggest lie within the refugee community remains that the refugee status only exists temporarily. Tell that to the 60 million people living camps for 20+ years. They’re there to stay. At the moment their lives are frozen and keep dependent on the NGO’s.

Which leads to the situation where the former colonial powers provide a bandage for the bleeding. In the form of the Red Cross and UNHCR. While they build a complete industry around it. See this discusson on twitter between Vinay Gupta and Paul Currion about this subject.
http://www.conweets.com/leashless/paulcurrion/

The people are not complying to the hospitality of their host country. Which is not nice, but totally understandable. We plundered their countries for centuries under colonialism and via globalization we continue to do so. If they try to build a future for themselves, we cripple their countries with debt, organize a coup or drone them. For example, 14 countries in Africa are still paying a tax to France for the ‘benefits’ of colonialism. If they try to do something about it, people get killed. So those countries remain a total basket case with a dictator on top.

Now, where does this leave The Netherlands in the current situation. In a very tight spot. The VVD was also chosen on a anti-immigrant stance and the European judge has spoken we have to provide basic care. In the short term, the mayors of the big cities will force the issue and take care of everybody. The VVD will have to bite the dust, or face new elections sooner or later. Where will this leave Europe? Worst case scenario, A Fort Europe with some ‘home lands’ in Poland and Spain for all the refugees. While all the refugees still try to come inside. Or we could give a rats ass and organize things better. https://decorrespondent.nl/597/De-tien-beste-ideeen-voor-een-humaan-asielbeleid/44373219-c209f798

See these 2 presentations by Vinay Gupta on how our current world actually works.
One Network One World – Vinay Gupta at Observe Hack Make – OHM2013
https://youtu.be/9CTCrWNYGTE

Vinay Gupta, Change Tears and Shear Planes… how technology is splitting society, and leaving us indecisive
https://vimeo.com/80260217

Getting webmail back home with Roundcube

(c) http://www.jjmail.it/

Since 2007, I used the webmail from xs4all.nl and that worked quite well. I only had couple of problems with this setup. For once, after 8 years, it was getting a bit full and I couldn’t get any extra space for that particular E-mail box. Secondly, I had to trust my provider for keeping backups and everything safe.

After a lot of thinking, planning and conniving I made the plans to set up a local webmail service up on my server at home. When the counter on my mailbox went from 98% full to 99% full, the time to take the plunge had arrived. Since this setup poses a few challenges to get going and I needed some structure. I documented everything on my local dokuwiki wiki, so I and maybe other people can get this going and benefit from it. Getting this working took quite a lot of work. Especially the little catches and headaches which needed figuring out. In the end it works quite fine and I’m happy to share my experience.

The page below documents the great outlines and most of the more elusive stuff. The more generic items follow the standard procedures, that you can find all over the internet. If you have any questions, you can pose them below and I’ll update the article. Or just ask me via Twitter @jhaand.¬† The goal was not to present a cook book that every noob could follow. So you still need to figure stuff out for yourself sometimes.

For everyone who wants to have a webmail server at home using Roundcube, Dovecot, running on a Debian system or getting their mail via XS4all using fetchmail. See this wiki page on how I got this done and which little catches you need tackle.

http://zentraedi.nl/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=local_imap

#EMF2014 (Electromagnetic Field hacker festival 2014)

Last week Andrea and me (on twitter @jhaand and @awc_haandrikman) went to the hacker festival Electromagnetic Field in Milton Keynes, UK. Once again it formed an awesome experience. I will write a small synopsis of this event and post the pictures. We went to the UK on 2014-08-26 and arrived back on 2014-09-01. Because EMF only opened the camping field on Friday 0900h, we needed to stay somewhere else the day before. We used this opportunity to visit Saint Albans and raid some book stores in London.

I only had the camera of my Fairphone smartphone on me, so sorry for the quality. I also took some pictures from my twitter feed and included the source where possible. Enjoy.

The EMF website is at http://emfcamp.org
The program was as follows: https://frab.emfcamp.org/en/EMF2014/public/schedule/0
Several news outlets did a piece on EMF: Vice, BBC and the Guardian.

Here is a short top 3 overview of the talks:

  • Day 1 (Friday, 2014-08-29)
    • Not Safe For Work: Industrial Control System Security / Corresponds completely with my work on High Tech Systems
    • Lightning Talks – Sign up at the Info Tesk! / The ‘spontaneous’ talk about AI immune systems for computers¬† was really interesting.
    • Showing keys in public / Just don’t or you’re pwned.
    • Gasman’s ZX Spectrum Chiptune Extravaganza / Here have some Dr. Who or src here.
  • Day 2 (Saturday, 2014-08-30)
    • Emojli: How we accidentally built an app and why we never want to build one again. / You start hacking and suddenly you’re harassed as a start-up. With VC and tech support and all. (Vice article here)
    • The 55th Flotilla (Live) With custom-built MIDI controllers & circuit bent lovelyness
    • Introduction to Information Security and Privacy / Good overview and you cannot be paranoid enough. Otherwise you lead a boring life.
  • Day 3 (Sunday, 2014-08-31)
    • Hexayurts, Distributed Infrastructure, and Maximizing Global Minimalism / Vinay Gupta on¬† roll: Kill the mortgage, Spotify’ize the building codes regulations and start building a nerd reich. (view here)
    • Why are computers so @#!*, and what can we do about it? / Unfortunately Technology won’t solve everything. Create a tool to offer an overview and the devs will stretch it to the limits. C should die for anything except bit-banging.
    • My Container Ship Holiday Slideshow / Welcome to the dystopian industrial world of container shipping in East China. Lot’s of stuff to see in nice navy grey with a Maersk logo.
    • Trials and tribulations of a badge project / Hardware is hard. Especially if you’re in the valley of death for 1500 SKU’s and need to organise a hacker festival parallel next to it.

For the rest there was a lot other cool stuff in no particular order:

  • Retro Game arcade by Awesome Retro
  • Nuclear Poker. The game for everybody older than 7.
  • Wifi and electricity on the camping site
  • The Festiyurt / mini quad dome hexayurt
  • Milliways: the restaurant at the end of the universe, offering Chili con carne at 0200h for free
  • Lots of interesting and creative people
  • Buy drinks with Bitcoin at the bar from a POS system that has Bitcoin integrated.
  • Enough space to place all your tents ‘n stuff
  • Awesome chip tune music
  • Blacksmithing workshops
  • Laser cutters
  • Lightning Talks
  • Being still able to take in information and find the correct word-thingies, while being sleep deprivated.
  • Able to stand the portaloo’s.
  • And many more stuff which would make this article too long.

Finally I want to thank the following people for their total awesomeness: Andrea Haandrikman, Vinay Gupta, @ian_willy + kids, @Herx, @Frabcus, @spongefile, @artied and @jonty.

update 2014-09-07: Added some external links and mentions from news sources.

The day we fight back banner added

tdwfb_headerTomorrow an internet wide action against surveillance will take place. It’s called “The Day we Fight Back” A lot of sites will add a banner tomorrow to show we have had enough of everybody spying on us and harvesting the data about us.

More info: https://thedaywefightback.org

You can add an plugin to your wordpress site very easily. Just add new plugin on your website. Enter “NSA” in the search field and the plugin comes out on top. Install and activate the plugin.¬† Changing the settings of the plugin, can be found the global under settings.

Mysterious project / Interactive painting

The last couple of years I’ve posted some images about an Arduino, LEDs, lots of wires and some wooden board where everything is mounted upon on facebook. Because it was a present, the whole thing had to remain a secret.¬† This project is finally finished and we can give the present to my niece on her 3rd birthday.

The artwork is done by my lovely wife Andrea Haandrikman. You can find her website here: http://www.muralmania.com

So what was it all about: I’ve designed my first 2 layer board, 4 layer board, programmed an Arduino Duemilanove, soldered 48 current sources in too small packages on the PCB and a whole lot more. Like doing project documentation in dokuwiki, getting the hang of geda gschem and pcb, create all symbols and shapes, integrate the boards in a larger ssytem and so on.

Below shows a movie of the painting that shows how the painting works. At 1:50 you can see the back of the painting with all the electronics.

We gave the painting to my niece on her third birthday. It was an instant hit. The different figures we’re hanging all over the board. At least not in the location we had thought of. The other guests we’re also really interested in how it worked and what you could do with it. All in all it was a great success.

I’ve put some pictures together to illustrate more of the technical side of the painting below.

 

Hopefully the next project will take shorter amount of time.

P.S.: I’ll post the design files and more pictures shortly

 

FIPO

First Post!

first post

I’ve been thinking about creating my own website for quite a while. Finally it’s here.
I’ll try to write about the topics I also listed for my Twitter tag line: Electrical Engineering, Free Software, Kobudo and Sustainability.

But it might also include some other random musings.