FSM at Meetup Mixup Melbourne

Ho ho ho Freedom Lovers

It's almost time for Christmas, but before then we'll meetup one last time to talk about all things freedom and open source. This year our meetup is by chance on the same night as the Meetup Mixup Melbourne, and we thought it might be fun to join the community for a celebration and a bit of Christmas cheer. So join us Thursday the 21st of December from 6:00 pm at the Loop Bar.

Tickets booked in advance are only $8.80 (or $10.00 at the door). We'll try to set up a table with FSM signage so we'll be super easy to find. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Event details

Thursday 21st December, 6:00-late
LOOP Project Space & Bar, 23 Meyers Place
Event link:

Free Software Show and Tell

Hi Software Freedom Lovers

It's November! and that's the time of the year when we look back and think about the Free Software that has improved our lives and given us all so much joy thorough the year. So join us this Thursday at Electron Workshop for our "Free Software Show and Tell" where we'll go round the group and each talk for a few minutes about the Free and Open Source Software that has made a difference for us this year.

It can be something you've just heard about and it sparked your interest or something you've come to rely upon day in and day out.

At 6:30 we'll will kick it off with our regular Gnews segment to get our tongues flapping and then we'll get stuck into the show and tells. We'll end the evening with pizza at Electron Workshop for dinner (vegetarians catered for, celiacs/others ping me and we'll arrange something)

I learned a few new tricks last year at the Show and Tell and it's always a fun night. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Event details

Thursday 16th Nov, 6:30-8:00pm
31 Arden St, North Melbourne, Victoria, 3051
Travel tips by Electron Workshop:

FSM Oct 19th - An intro to D# and the Gnews

Hey Free Software lovers, this month we will be joined by Elmer Bool to
discuss d#.  Elmer has been in roles such as software developer, QA
analyst, business analyst and project manager over the past 15 years.

d# is a free and open source project which aims to create and support a
more simplified and streamlined Universal Language for communications
between humans, as well as humans and AI. It aims to become a platform
for new apps that will refactor, redesign, recentralize and/or enhance
existing apps and data to help users solve challenges including those
related to their freedoms, security, and privacy.

With any luck, we will also be helping one of our founding members
install coreboot onto his pc during the meeting which we hope will bring us
one step closer to software freedom.

After this, we will have our regular Gnews segment and then head down to
Errol street for dinner and continued fun.

Hope to see you at 6:30pm on Thursday 19th October at Electron Workshop
for our monthly Free Software Melbourne meet-up.

Event details
Thursday 19th Oct, 6:30-8:00pm
31 Arden St, North Melbourne, Victoria, 3051
Running late or can't find us? Call Ben on 0419 390 496

Why we need Free software in Education

The absolute core of education is the sharing of knowledge. This can be facts and methods through to materials and tests. The essential idea is that everything is done in the clear so that the students can see and learn as much as possible so they can be good citizens to each other and themselves. And yet when it comes to computer technology and the software is runs the vast majority of it has few or none of these properties. This is not a question of technology but of the ethics that govern how computer technology is used.

When it comes to cost most schools are given free (gratis) proprietary software so that the students are indoctrinated into favouring it over other software. This is one of the major reasons that things like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop are considered industry standards. Not because they are the considered the best software in terms of technology and freedoms to users, but because this is what the students are trained in. Eventually the student becomes the teacher and thus the cycle continues on to the next generation. This is a common marketing tactic used to limit potential options to the users by specifying a strict selection of software, users will naturally shy away from exploring alternatives out of fear they will be left with a lesser experience. This is handing the students minds to the corporations rather than to the world.

Even though a lot of this propritary software has no cost it is no gurantee. A lot also do cost the students heavily. This can mean that students who cannot afford to purchase a copy for themselves are either limited to using the schools copies according to the open hours of the institution and availability or having to pay large sums of money simply to continue doing their learning at home. Ones ability to learn should never be an issue of money simply to have the key tools available – especially when there is no necessity for it. The schools are locked into the software vendors wishes and they are selling out their students to do this, to break away from this power chain is to gain independence at every level.

Software on system like the Apple iPad are even worse and they do not allow the user to install what they wish, only what Apple allows them via their ‘App store’. This is forcing the student yet again in to a profit driven business rather than an ethics based on.

The Freedom to share free software is a major component that can aid in education. Any free software that is used can also be given to students free of charge by their teachers and other students, this should including the source code which allows students to see how it works if they so wish. Not only does this limit the issue of money but it encourages others to share between each other. Sharing is a natural part of human society and in the foundation on which progress is formed. Proprietary software actively works against this so that the users are locked into the software vendors desires and not the users. It puts the company ahead of those that use the output.

With software that is free to study the students have the ability to see exactly how the computer system works. This is entirely off limits in proprietary software as it is treated as a black box that is illegal for people to even try and study and modify the workings. Some one who wants to learn how the software works has everything in the open allowing them to learn and tinker with the code to see what it is doing. If a student makes a change that is desired then they should be encouraged to share this with other students and thus instil further growth of each others sense of community. An analogy would be if Isaac Newtons theory of gravity was kept a secret and that the students where never able to see the equations to see how the theory works – it simply would not be accepted and yet this is what many do with software. It is the opposite of education, it is indoctrination.

To make matters worse, with proprietary software we do not have an idea of what the software is actually doing. Something that may look like a potentially innocent program could be doing some nasty things behind the scenes. There are very few ways that the community can confirm the real function of a proprietary program or if there are some nasty back doors that all others to access the machine via the internet and potentially be used to harm someone. An image viewing program could be uploading these pictures to servers elsewhere on the internet, document programs could be doing the same thing and it can get worse to the point of even taking pictures via the web cam without the users knowledge. Just because a program looks innocent doesn't mean it is.

To make matters worse, for the sake of convenience a lot of schools now are using Software as a Service (Saas), this is where the programs and all your information is stored on someone else’s computer. A good example of this would be Google Docs. These are programs that not only do the users (including the schools) not have any control over the software but also of the information that they put into it. This is a horrible situation as it means that the companies have all the control and the users have very minimal at best. The programs can be changed or removed at any time without the user having any say in the issue, the same of the information they have put into the system. These should be avoided at all costs. The use of these platforms while convenient encourage a very bad behaviour of giving up personal freedoms for ease of use.

Free software should be a major part of computer, not just the use of it but teaching the students the values of their freedoms and independence and how the software they use can restrict or reflect these values. With computers becoming a near requirement of the daily lives of most people it is important that we encourage others to not only look after themselves but for those they help and/or rely on. If the education system guides people to help each other with it comes of computers it will be yet another stone in a strong foundation of society and it must be taught before it is too late.

FSM Sept 16th - Software Freedom Day 2017!

It's that time of the year where we celebrate our freedoms in technology and raise a ruckus about all the freedoms that have been eroded away. The time of the year we look at how we might keep our increasingly digital lives under our our own control and prevent prying eyes from seeing things they shouldn't. You guessed it: It's Software Freedom Day!

Free Software Melbourne, in conjunction with Linux Users Victoria, is celebrating the 14th annual Software Freedom Day with talks from Linux Users Victoria, Electronic Frontiers Australia and the F-Droid app store. We'll also be having plenty of networking opportunities, introductions to local technology groups and a Linux installfest. So bring down that old pc you were about to throw away and give it a new coat of Debian and bring it back to life!

We have a Code of conduct online which we follow. In short: Be respectful. Be mindful. Work together. Link provided below. This is the a family friendly event, please invite anyone that is interested along to help make it a great day

Entry is free anytime, so help spread the word on everyone’s liberties. Tea, Coffee and light refreshments will be provided gratis

Hope to see all your happy faces at the event (you don't have to be happy, but be there!)

Time Table