Zurich Open Source Jam 8

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On August 13th, 2009, starting at 6 PM a little more than 50 people trickled into our Zurich, Switzerland office to share thoughts and snacks about all things free as in freedom for the 8th edition of the Zurich Open Source Jam. By 7 PM, a great variety of talks were lined up on the whiteboard and we started with our traditional lightning talks.

Markus Michael Geipel introduced us to his research on Dynamics of Open Source Code, providing quantitative insights into laws of growths, change dynamics and special structures applicable to open source development. He also presented us with a research tool developed for this project and contributed to Open Source, a workbench for relations visualization.

Lukas Lang, a Google Summer of Code™ 2008 student, talked about a program at the Institute for Software Technology of Vienna University of Technology to involve students in Open Source during a semester as a subject. Students participate into Open Source organizations such as Apache Software Foundation and develop independent proposals to achieve during the semester, not unlike the Google Summer of Code.

Matthaus Ringwald presented BTstack, a lightweight and portable Bluetooth stack for embedded machines. BTstack targets devices such as the iPhone, where the existing Bluetooth stack is severely limited, or embedded operating systems lacking any Bluetooth support. He presented us with a live demonstration of a WiiMote controlling over Bluetooth a 3D object in an OpenGL ES application running on an iPhone.

Michel Pauli recounted to us his travels in Africa and in particular his work in a school in Limbe, Cameroon. He has been using Open Source software to run a computer lab using partly scavenged hardware with great success. With tools such as LTSP,Xen, Edubuntu or Moodle, he used computers to transmit a broad range of knowledge on only a few watts of electricity.

David Anderson presented NxOS, an operating system base for the Lego Mindstorms NXT robotics kit. The system aims to simplify the basic job of other NXT operating systems such as Lejos, as well as open the doors for new experiments with the kit. The topic of killer robot armies made of lego, foremost in everyone's minds, was of course discussed.

Tara Andrews told us how Open Source would help the Humanities. She explained how the current state of specialty humanities software impedes collaboration and research, and envisaged what computing in the Humanities could achieve if open source software development methodologies were being efficiently used. We traveled all over Europe through her fascinating stories of copist monks, manuscripts collecting, Unicode mangling and massive textual corpus diffing.

The rest of the evening saw Googlers and guests happily chatting about all kinds of subjects and 10 PM was too soon and the (Swiss) beer still unfinished when we had to mark the end of this edition of the Zurich Open Source Jam.

To stay informed about future Open Source Jams in Zurich, please join the Open Source Jam Zurich Google Group. Open Source Jams are sponsored by the Google Open Source Team.