FISL 2009: Day 3... Cybercrime law is equivalent to censorship

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FISL 2009: Day 3... Cybercrime law is equivalent to censorship

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One of the unquestionable highlights of Day 3 at FISL, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, was President Lula (i.e., the president of Brazil) dropping by. (Read about Day 1 here and Day 2 here.)

Well, not so much 'dropping by', since everyone knew in advance and half the pavillion had been closed off. Then he came and on the left you see a picture of President Lula with his OpenSolaris gear and a couple of the cool Sun Campus Ambassadors (Vitorio Sassi, Rafael Vanoni, and Bruno Schmit) cheering him on. To see the pic in larger size click here

President Lula held a speech during which he declared the proposed Brazilian cybercrime law to be equivalent to censorship. (Read more about this proposed law here, as well as elsewhere online, such as here.) That's a very clear response to the upcoming 9th Annual POLCYB International Summit to be held in Budapest in October. Plus, this move creates a space for other governments to make similar steps friendly to human rights. For further discussions at FISL around copyright and cybercrime, see my report on yesterday's installment of FISL.

Happy Birthday, Brian

For me, the day started by attending a session called "Developing Beyond localhost", by OpenSolaris evangelist Brian Leonard. A lot of what he showed was how VirtualBox, which provides the means to deploy and test applications to operating systems other than the one you have installed, enables cross platform development and testing. He demoed in some detail how the Sun Web Stack can be used in combination with VirtualBox and the ZFS file system to deploy and test applications across OpenSolaris, Ubuntu and Windows XP.

As it turned out, it happened to be Brian's birthday and Bruno Souza (main JUG guy in the whole of Brazil) did not let a moment pass without reminding Brian of that fact. What that meant was quite simple: in every room where Bruno came across Brian, he announced to everyone in the vicinity that it was Brian's birthday, whereupon everyone sang 'Happy Birthday' in Portuguese, very loudly.

The first time this happened was during Brian's session. Suddenly, Bruno and a bunch of others, one of whom seemed to be wearing a very large lion's head or something, stormed in, made their announcement, and then everyone broke into raucous birthday singing for Brian. He must have heard 'Happy Birthday' in Portuguese several times today. It was quite funny.

Simon Phipps Interviews Free & Open Source Projects

Next up, in the same room as where Brian had done his presentation, Sun open source guru Simon Phipps put on his David Letterman hat and set up a chat show with representatives from a range of open source projects and community groups.

For example, he chatted at some length with Eduardo Lima, the Academic Programs Manager of the Brazil OSUM (Open Source University Meetup) about student-related activities in Brazil. Eduardo told Simon that this social network is the place for students to meet, learn, and talk about open source software. For example, you can get access to free training, on-campus events, discounted certification and lots of free student resources.

GlassFish and OpenSolaris were also highlighted, among others, while I spent some minutes talking about Kenai.com (where you can upload and manage your source code) and NetBeans IDE. I drew particular attention to the strength of the NetBeans community, which recently managed to translate a German NetBeans book (which itself had been created by a community member) into English, and published under the title The Definitive Guide to NetBeans Platform. Plus, recently the Polish, Czech, and Spanish communities started translating the English book into their languages (and other language communities are invited to do the same thing).

Distance Learning Application in NetBeans IDE

It was pretty good to get that exposure in Simon Phipps' talk show because afterwards several Brazilian NetBeans users came up for a chat.

One of them, Eros Stein, told me about a distance learning application that he is creating in NetBeans IDE for a project at his university, the Insituto Federal de Educacau, Ciencia E Technologia. The idea is that different departments will be able to make courseware available via the application created by Eros. Since his university has a center for distance learning, the users of his application are very close by, which is pretty convenient.

He demoed the application to me, a cool Java application that gives the student feedback for maths exercises performed in the application. I suggested that maybe it would be a good idea to build a community around his application. There could even be different communities, each interested in working on specific courseware that would be delivered through the application Eros is creating. To do that, a pluggable application would be ideal, since each community would be able to provide modules to the whole application, without needing to download the entire source base. And so I showed him a few simple steps by which he could move his application to the NetBeans Platform, where modularity is provided out of the box, while he'd be able to continue using Swing, which he is already comfortable with. 

On the left, you see him holding up the USB stick he won in the NetBeans Refer-a-Friend competition.

NetBeans IDE vs. JDeveloper: A Teacher's Insights

I also met Wendell Pereira de Farias from Mato Grosso, Brazil. He is a Java instructor at the university where Eros (discussed above) studies, IFES.

Wendell has been an instructor at the university for about a year. Prior to that he was a computer technician, installing operating systems and fixing computers.

At the time, he did Java development in JDeveloper. Since beginning teaching, he has switched to NetBeans IDE. When asked why he is using NetBeans IDE instead of JDeveloper, he said: "I changed to NetBeans IDE because of its many built-in features and because it is open source. In NetBeans IDE, the frameworks with which you can natively work, such as Swing and Java ME, without installing any special plugins, make teaching Java very easy. As a teaching strategy, we reinforce the students understanding of Java by promoting NetBeans IDE. In this way, the students gain an interest in NetBeans IDE, especially because of the convenience of having so many features available in a single IDE."

He teaches 70 students, while the other 18 teachers at his university also teach Java through NetBeans IDE. In total, the informatics department at IFES consists of about 400 students. Wendell also knows 5 other universities in the area, where all teaching is done through NetBeans IDE, to a combined student population of about 3000.

Speakers Dinner

In the afternoon, I woke up to find I had passed out during Chris DiBona's presentation (Wikipedia entry here), so realized it was time to take a break on open source. I spent some time in the center of town, which is really beautiful. The cobbled streets, the neoclassical architecture, the Portuguese look and feel, the fresh juice stands everywhere, small shops, etc.

Then, in the evening, it was time for the speaker dinner. Since there were over 400 speakers at the conference, the space where the dinner took place was pretty large. It reminded me of a German beer hall and brought back memories of Oktoberfest in Munich some years back! There was a central stage where Brazilian dance performances took place and the general vibe was really cool and laid back. Inevitably, there again were lots of waiters coming around (such as the stern guy in this picture) to personally cut off bits of meat over your plate. Some meats I had never consumed before, nor imagined could be eaten. In particular, chicken hearts I had not ever tasted yet and I must admit to feeling a bit guilty at even having tried.


Finally, here's a pic of the aforementioned Eduardo Lima, holding up an OpenSolaris t-shirt signed by President Lula and the Brazilian minister of justice!

And that's my report for Day 3 of FISL! It was a lot less eclectic than previous days, more focused on the specific areas that I happen to work on, but I hope that it still gave a flavor of the various things happening at this conference.




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