Participatory Design & Floss: How can co-design work with libre graphics

By Paula Graham and Lisa Haskell

Fossbox is more about participatory design than libre graphics.

Fossbox seeks to change the world through technology. They ran Flossie, which taught a lot about working with diversity, which is important working with end users.

Ux design is core for teaching end users. It’s important to work with end users to discover what they need. If code is poetry, interface is interactive art.

Fossbox stated out doing floss advocacy with NGOs and community groups. They found that free software and arts groups get on well, but diverse groups had some political friction. This is partly a clash between libertarian floss and socialist NGOs.

Some political decisions undertaken by developers are not well communicated to end users, who may disagree with them.

You must meet users on their own terms. Flexibility is important. Compromise is necessary. This may mean, say, recording to non-free formats.

Users may expect undeliverable things, so that has to be communicated.

Be prepared to shift your paradigm.

Developers must collaborate with designers.

Working with a community is a project. Be aware of scope creep.

Questions:

Why is ‘agile’ too techy?

Fossbox collaborated over 3 years with a disability organisation in East London. Most workers do front line work.  Agile methods of users stories and springs didn’t help communicate with users. The users were support busy and they approached them on their own terms.

Q: I don’t think floss is a libertarian monoculture!

Globally, floss is extremely diverse. In Anglo-American it is libertarian. Floss developers have free time and education and are privileged in every culture. In Anglo-American culture, this means white men. Floss is profoundly  homosocial and in order to include women, changes must be made.

Q: Don’t put me in a box!

Owning the means of production, is good. People should own the technology that shaped their lives. But ai algorithms are enormously complex. To own that technology, is need a lot of kit and skill, unless we change our understanding of ownership to one of democracy. How do we deal with citizen, user control of enormously complex systems otherwise?

I’m using Firefox because it’s great in programming and politics

Update: Eich has stepped down.
Yeah, so OkCupid says I should switch to a Google product because it’s better on LGBT rights. Um, have they been paying attention to anything? The new Mozilla CEO gave $1k to overturn marriage quality in California, whereas Google sponsored a national conference of prominent right-wing politicians who want to overturn all LGBT rights everywhere.
You know what, I love having equal marriage rights in California, really I do. And like most LGBT people, I thought prop 8 was terrible. But what I don’t like is ‘pink washing’, where some company makes some lame claim to be a sponsor of LGBT rights, (usually by having a health insurance policy that is vaguely equal or, thse days, by supporting something that a large majority of American agree with anyway (how bold!)) and then we’re supposed to forgive them all their other sins. Even if Google weren’t sponsoring CPAC, they’d still be in bed with the NSA.
We don’t hear much about ‘don’t be evil’ these days, because, alas, Google is making a fuckload of money by being evil. Mozilla never needed a corporate slogan like that because their mission has always been to do good from the very outset. I agree with this queer Mozilla employee who doesn’t want the open internet to get caught up in the American political football match of left vs right wedge issues and distraction. Open internet and NSA spying is more important than a relative small donation to an odious cause, which, by the way, does not mean we should be ‘tolerant’ of some asshole’s concrete political actions to take away rights from a minority which includes some of this own employees. If every other browser was also open source and pro-open standards and on the right side of LGBT rights, then this would be worth switching browsers over, for sure, but that’s not what’s going on here. The CEO says he won’t resign, which is a poor choice, but, again, really not worth a boycott. Especially when the other choices are closed source or blatantly on the side of evil.
So keep Firefox, and install Lightbeam if you want to see just how bloody much Google is spying on your every move. And if you’re an ally or whatever like OKCupid, how about doing a tiny bit of research and not telling LGBT people what to think or do? LGBT people and Mozilla employees can all speak for themselves/ourselves. Because, hey, we’ve got the internet, which is still open, thanks largely to the efforts of Mozilla.
Disclaimers of various sorts: I used to work for Netscape and I got the first same sex divorce in the state of California.

Discuss

This post is intended to be accessible to non-technical readers, so don’t flee when you see mention of programming languages.
Recently, on [an email list related to a FLOSS programming language], somebody posted about having used [a rival language] a lot for a month. He was happy to be back to his preferred language, writing, “It feels like having been fucking around with ugly cocain addict ex-go go dancer only to find out how much you love your wife. (who looks like Sharon Tate and still a C++/Java expert. )”
He then went on to ask a technical question.
I don’t want to bring this up on the [original] list, but I have questions about this and would like to get a discussion going. Is this an example of casual sexism / heteronormativity or just a slangy way of speaking? If it is sexism, could it it alienating to women who might otherwise want to be on the email list? Should such phrasing be discouraged? Should there be a policy? Would such a policy be overly formal/constricting for a language often used by hobbyists?
I found that sentence to be somewhat annoying, obviously, or I wouldn’t be posting about it, but not annoying enough to reply back and start a discussion on the list, especially as it’s pretty atypical. I’m wondering what others think about it, though.

Politics and FOSS: Open to who and when?

I was recently doing some reading towards writing a paper that touched on the politics and philosophy of FOSS. That stands for “Free and Open Source Software.” That doesn’t mean free as in “no charge,” although that is often also true. It’s “Free as in Freedom,” according to those that follow Stallman [1]. FOSS software belongs to the community of people that use and write it.
It’s about sharing. You give away what you write and you give away your knowledge of how to use. Communities of users form, giving each other support and helping each other with the software. It’s very easy to see this in idealist terms, and I wanted to write a paper about how progressive we all were. I was reading a paper by Olga Goriunova that analysed FOSS from a Marxist perspective. And then again from a feminist perspective. And then again from a Deluzian point of view. [2] FOSS began to look like a Rorschach blot of politics.
Indeed when some of the major players in the movement, such as Raymond, are right-libertarians [3, 4] and others are anti-captialist, then obviously it resists this kind of simple political reading.This was at the back of my mind this afternoon when, looking for distraction, I logged into the Greater London Linux Users Group channel on Freenode.
Freende is an IRC server, so this was a real-time chat, established so that people in the London area can talk about Linux; maybe network or get some help with a problem. Instead, I wandered in to a conversation where the participants were bemoaning the “wrong” kind of people having babies, by which, they meant poor people. One of the participants was talking about how a particular 14 year old girl, known to him personally, was a “slapper.” (*) The conversation turned to how forced sterilisation of poor people would be a good idea. “[W]e keep coming to this conclusion, birth controll [sic] in the water in all council estates” suggested a user called hali. [5]
Meanwhile, bastubis, a woman from a working class background logged in and became upset about the content of the conversation. Bastubis noted she “lived on a council estate as a child.” A few lines later hali said, “the fact the chavs(**) get pregnant in the first place is usually a misstake [sic].” Bastubis explained that she was “a chav with an education – you’re talking about me.” Another user, dick_turpin, chimed in shortly thereafter with, “Enforced sterilisation I say.” Bastubis quickly became frustrated and left. [5]
Dick_turpin cheered her departure with a “Huzzah!”, while hali celebrated with a “muahaha.” [5]
Their exercise of privilege to create a hostile environment for some users is clearly not accidental. If they were unconsciously expressing privilege, that would not have been followed with a “huzzah.” Given that the conversation started with both gender and class based slurs, it seem likely that their desire to exclude bastubis from the group had roots both in class and gender. As such, their intention was specifically to replicate privilege found offline and institute online to create an homogenous environment.
That privilege is expressed online as much as offline should not be surprising. FOSS communities are diverse and organised around geographical regions and or interests and sometimes identity, such as women or LGBT users. Therefore, some groups will tend to allow unchecked privilege, while others will tend to frown upon it or specifically disallow it. Simon Yuill writes that OpenLab, another London-based community centred on FOSS, specifically grew out out of a progressive squatter-based movement. Hacklabs such as OpenLab, “have provided a clear political and ethical orientation in contrast to the somewhat confused and contradictory political and social perspectives articulated in the other communities and contexts of the wider FOSS world.” [6] When OpenLab’s mailing list recently had a discussion about how to get more women involved, there were certainly moments of frustration, but the apparent intention was inclusion.
How is it that FOSS can create some communities that would seem to be progressive and others that would seem to want to preserve privilege over any other goal? I think my error is looking at it as a political movement. A lot of its spokespeople speak of it in a political manner, but given the widely divergent viewpoints, there is no inherent or unifying left or right ideology of FOSS. It’s infrastructure. It has value to many groups of people because it avoids duplication of effort and grants them access to resources. For some groups, the fact that it also grants resources to other users is a necessary sacrifice – one that can be mitigated through hostility to undesirable participants. For other groups, the sharing is a main focal point. FOSS, itself, is political like music is political, with as many readings and intentions.

*A derogatory slang term used for sexual promiscuous females.
** A derogatory slang term used for poor people

[1] Free as in Freedom
[2] Goriunova, Olga, “Autocreativity: The Operation of Codes of Freedom in Art and Culture”. FLOSS+Art (eBook) Ed. Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk. 2008.
[3] Raymond, Eric S, “I am an active Libertarian” 2003. Assessed 18 August 2010.
[4] Raymond, Eric S, Whatever happened to civil rights? 2003. Assessed 18 August 2010.
[5] #GLLUG ON FREENODE ON THE 18TH OF AUG 2010 IRC log
[6] Yuill, Simon, “All Problems of Notation Will be Solved by the Masses: Free Open Form Performance, Free/Libre Open Source Software, and Distributive Practice”. FLOSS+Art (eBook) Ed. Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk. 2008.

The Free CD for Windows

Yesterday, I gave a talk about FOSS and music. I handed out modified copies of the Fossbox Free CD for windows. Here is the readme file that came with the CDs, along with links for where to download the software. For an additional resource, you should also check out Open Source Windows

Welcome to the Fossbox Free CD


The free CD gives you a taster of the free
software options available for Windows. In this document, you’ll find
a brief description of the software and links to instructions for
installing it. You can find free
tutorials and books to help you get the best from the software
on
the Fossbox website.

Note that if you
would like to buy Microsoft Office products, registered charities can
buy discounted MS software from Charity
Technology Exchange (CTX)
. Please note, this is available only to
registered charities.

Anti-virus software and security


ClamWin is a
free anti-virus programme. Download it here. This is free to any kind of user and it’s a small application which
won’t slow your older PC down too much. It automatically scans email
attachments in Outlook but not Thunderbird and it doesn’t scan files
on your hard-drive unless you do this manually.

If you want automatic
scanning, there are several commercial anti-virus products on the
market which are free for private individuals but not for registered
charities or non-profits. You will need to register and pay on their
site to use them if you are anything other than an individual home
user. They’re not included on the CD for copyright reasons.

Avira is one
of the smallest (that is, it doesn’t slow your PC much) and you
can download Avira’s free version for home use here
. If you’re an
organisation, they offer discounts for non-profits so it’s worth
emailing them and asking for a discount.

Kaspersky
Anti-Virus (KAV)
is very highly rated for security (but it has no
free version). Kaspersky offers a free
one-off scan
here or you can download
a trial version or buy KAV here

There is already a
simple firewall included with XP which will help protect your
PC from invasion via the internet. If you are using a USB modem you
might want something stronger. Zonealarm
has a free version of their very effective firewall
for
non-commercial use (which includes all non-profits).

Is your PC really
crawling along?
When you are browsing with XP’s own browser you
will usually find that the browser gets slower and slower over time.
This is because some corporations attach little bits of software to
your browser to track you around the web. You can reduce this problem
by using Firefox instead (see ‘Browsing the internet’ section
below). You can ‘clean’ your browser by using a simple programme
called Ad-aware. This can’t be included on the CD for
copyright reasons but you can download the free
version of Adaware here
. Adaware’s makers, Lavasoft, also offer
discounts to non-profits on their security software.

Office and project software


Open Office is a free
alternative to MS Office. It’s very similar and most people are able
to get started and carry on as usual without any special training to
use it. T has a word processor, a spreadsheet, presentation and
data-base with wizards. Download it here. There is a checkbox on the download page that you should leave checked. To get you
started using
Open Office you’ll find tutorials here
and some
flash tutorials here
.

Foxit
is a free viewer for
.pdf files which is very light and won’t slow your PC down. Foxit
is copyrighted but you can download it here. This software will allow you to read
pdf files and fill in interactive pdf forms. You can get tech support
at their
site
.

Scribus
is a free Desktop Publisher. Download it here. You’ll
find free
Scribus video tutorials here

Open
Workbench
is a free project management application. Download it here. Open
Workbench’s community support is here

Internet


Thunderbird
is a free email programme
. Download it here. To get started using Thunderbird
you will find illustrated
tutorials here
.

If you would like a
calendar, this can be added to Thunderbird. Follow
these illustrated instructions to add a calendar
.

You will find
Microsoft Outlook Express pre-installed with XP. This is a simple and
basic email programme ―
but is prone to viruses. Thunderbird is simple and has more features.

Browsing the internet


Windows XP has a web browser called Internet
Explorer. You open it by clicking on the blue ‘e’
.icon on your desktop.

There’s an alternative browser called Firefox. Firefox does not pick up as much ‘malware’ as you browse
the internet and has stronger privacy and security controls. Download it here. You can also find illustrated
instructions for installing Firefox here
.

Website editor


To help you make simple websites, Kompozer
is a visual HTML editor with formatting buttons. Download it here. You’ll find free
Kompozer tutorials here

These tutorials are for a previous version of
Kompozer called NVU but Kompozer is almost identical so you should be
able to get started:
http://www.designyourownweb.com/nvu/settingup-nvu.htm

To upload website files to the internet, you need
an FTP client so check out Filezilla. Download it here. Your
ISP will be able to give you the login information you need to set it
up – ask the people you rent your website space from.

Graphics


There are three graphics programmes included on
the CD.

If you want to do serious photo-editing, you need
the GIMP, a
fully-featured graphics programme
. Download it here. Free
GIMP tutorials here

Inkscape
is vector drawing software. Download it here. You’ll find tutorials
for Inkscape here

Paint.NET
is another image editor. Download it here.
Note
that Open Office also
has a vector drawing application.

Media


Multi-media player
VLC
is
a light and versatile alternative to Windows Media Player. Download it here.
Ripping DVDs
HandBrake
is a DVD ripper. Download it here.
Video Editing
VirtualDub
is a crude cut-and-paste video editor that takes interesting and
unusual custom plug-ins. Download it here.
Processing
is an open source programming language environment for people who
want to program images, animation and interactions. Download it here./P>

Making CDs


If you have a CD ROM capable of burning disks,
CDBurnerXP
is free CD burning software
which will create data, audio or disk
image (ISO) CDs. Download it here. It’s called CDBurnerXP but it
works fine with Vista.



Sound


Editor
Audacity
is a light-weight sound editor. There is a stable version and a beta version. The beta has more and better features, but you will need to save early and often. If that worries you, get the stable version instead. Download either version here.
Programming
Pd
is a real-time graphical dataflow programming environment for audio,
video and graphical processing. It is especially useful for rapid
prototyping and can be used to write reactive music or the iPhone via
the RjDj app. Download it here. If you want to write for iPhone, pick the vanilla version. Otherwise, get the extended version.
SuperCollider
is an environment and programming language for real time audio
synthesis and algorithmic composition. It has a bit of a learning
curve, however, it is extremely
powerful and useful. Download
it here
.

Accounting


GNUCash


GNUCash
is simple and basic accounting software designed for home and
small-business use. Download
it here
and
Free
tutorials for GNUCash here

TurboCash


Turbocash
is a professional accounting system including debtors, creditors,
general ledger, full stock control, VAT accounting, invoicing, bank
reconciliation, trial balance, balance sheet and income statements,
full reporting and analysis, as well as mutli-company and multi-user
capabilities.

Download
it here
. TurboCash is, apparently, easy to learn
if you’re an experienced bookkeeper or accountant but it’s definitely
not for beginners. If you’re inexperienced use GNUCash.

Portable Apps


Potable apps is a great idea – if you move
around a lot and use different PCs you’ve probably experienced the
frustration that your bookmarks and emails etc aren’t with you. If
you have a USB stick or external HD you can install the Portable Apps
Suite with a couple of clicks.

Portable apps puts a little icon in your system
tray (down at the bottom-right on XP) and when you click on it a menu
pops up allowing you to choose Firefox, Thunderbird and many other
familiar free software applications.

This means you always have your bookmarks and your
familiar software and when you use portable apps on someone else’s PC
it leaves no trace on their computer of your session – which is
great for your privacy and you don’t leave a mess behind you.

Download it here. Pick the “Suite Standard” if your USB stick is one gigabyte or bigger. Otherwise, pick the “Suite Light.” Once you’ve downloaded it, To install portable apps, insert your USB stick or
HD and make sure it has at least 200 MB of space free. Run the .exe program that you just downloaded. Make
sure you install it to the root of the USB device (that is, not
inside another folder). If you’re not sure, there’s
a video tutorial here

Try Ubuntu without
disturbing Windows


Wubi
installs the Ubuntu operating system so that it runs like any other
bit of software within Windows without messing up your Windows system
in any way. If you decide you don’t want it, you can also uninstall
it from ‘Add and Remove Programs’ in the Windows Conrol Panel. Download it here.
There are
step-by-step
illustrated instructions on using the Wubi installer

here and there’s a video
tutorial on YouTube which takes you through installing and using
Ubuntu with Wubi here

There are
instructions
for installing and uninstalling Wubi here



The Free CD for Mac

I just gave a talk about FOSS and music and gave out copies of the Fossbox free software CD for mac. Here is the readme file that came with it, with download links. You can also find a bunch of cool free mac software from the website http://www.opensourcemac.org/

Welcome to the Fossbox Free CD


The free CD gives you a taster of the free
software options available for the Mac. In this document, you’ll find
a brief description of the software and links to instructions for
installing it. You can find free
tutorials and books to help you get the best from the software
on
the Fossbox website.

Office and project software


Open
Office
is a free alternative to MS Office. It’s very similar and
most people are able to get started and carry on as usual without any
special training to use it. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet,
presentation and data-base with wizards. Download it here.To get you started
using
Open Office you’ll find tutorials here
and some
flash tutorials here
.

If you find Open
Office to be too slow, Neo
Office
is a mac-specific version of it that has fewer features
but quite a bit more speed. You can download
it here
.

Skim
is a PDF viewer that allows you to modify and annotate PDF files, for
example, by filling in forms. Download it here.

Scribus
is a free Desktop Publisher. Download it here. You’ll
find free
Scribus video tutorials here

Internet


Thunderbird
is a free email programme
. Download it here. and
follow the on-screen instructions. To get started using Thunderbird
you will find illustrated
tutorials here
.

If you would like a
calendar, this can be added to Thunderbird. Follow
these illustrated instructions to add a calendar
.

Browsing the internet


Although the Safari browser is included with OS X,
there’s an alternative browser called Firefox. Download it here.. It
has more features and is more customisable.

Website editor


To help you make simple websites, Kompozer
is a visual HTML editor with formatting buttons. Download it here.You’ll find free
Kompozer tutorials here

These tutorials are for a previous version of
Kompozer called NVU but Kompozer is almost identical so you should be
able to get started:
http://www.designyourownweb.com/nvu/settingup-nvu.htm

To upload website files to the internet, you need
an FTP client so check out Filezilla. You can download it here.. (In order to install it, you
may need to first install The Unarchiver utility. Click the link to download it.)
Your ISP will be able to
give you the login information you need to set up FileZilla – ask
the people you rent your website space from.

Instant Messaging


Audium
allows you to connect to multiple IM accounts, including Facebook, in
a single app. Download it here.

File Sharing


Transmission
is a Bit Torrent client. Download it here..

Graphics


There are two graphics programmes included on the
CD.

If you want to do serious photo-editing, you need
the GIMP, a
fully-featured graphics programme
. Download
it here
. Gimp on OS X requires X Windows, which is included with
your system CD or a free version can be downloaded
here
. Free
GIMP tutorials here

Inkscape
is vector drawing software., which also requires X Windows. Download it here. You’ll
find tutorials
for Inkscape here

Note
that Open Office also
has a vector drawing application.

Media


Multi-media player
VLC
is
a light and versatile movie player which opens more types of movies
than Quicktime. Download it here.


Ripping DVDs
HandBrake
is a DVD ripper. Download it here.


Video Editing
Processing
is an open source programming language environment for people who
want to program images, animation and interactions. Download it here..

Sound


Editor
Audacity
is a light-weight sound editor. There is a stable version and a beta version. The beta has more and better features, but you will need to save early and often. If that worries you, get the stable version instead. Download the stable version here. or Download the beta version here.


Ardour
is a a fully-featured Digital Audio Workstation with plug-in support
that can be used for serious audio projects. You can download it here. They will ask you if you want to donate to the project. You can put whatever amount you wish in the box, including $0.
Ardour
relies on a helper application called Jack,
which is also useful in it’s own right. Download
Jack here
.


Programming
Pd
is a real-time graphical dataflow programming environment for audio,
video and graphical processing. It is especially useful for rapid
prototyping and can be used to write reactive music or the iPhone via
the RjDj app.
Download PD here.



SuperCollider
is an environment and programming language for real time audio
synthesis and algorithmic composition. It has a bit of a learning
curve, however, it is extremely
powerful and useful. Download
it here
.

Ardour Report

I have advice. I spent some time with the native version of ardour yesterday, and, of course, a lot of time previous to that with the X11 version. If I were on OS X 10.4, I would run the X11 version because it’s very reliable and it’s pretty easy to install. The only drawback is that you have to first install X11, but that’s worth doing anyway.
On Intel 10.5, I’m going to run the native version. While using it, I encountered a crash bug, (which I reported). It crashed very reliably, but, unlike Audacity, crashes do not result in the loss of saved data. The way I work with audio software is that whenever I make a change to a project, I save. Record audio. Save. Adjust panning. Save. To use the native version of Ardour, you must work this way, but you should be working this way anyway. Save early and often!
(I’ve worked in higher education as a lab assistant and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve comforted weeping students who’ve just lost hours of work. Every program crashes occasionally. My sad students were all using commercial software and lost their data. Save. And backup!)

Getting Started

First do all the configuration and whatnot in my previous post. Then

  1. Start Jack Pilot
  2. Click it’s start button
  3. Start Ardour

That’s either version, native or X11. (The other issue I encountered with Ardour is that I keep forgetting to turn on Jack. This is not a big deal, as the friendly GUI will altert you and you can go do it. I’m forgetful enough that I created an Automator script to do it for me. If there is demand, I will distribute some version of the script.) After you start it, Ardour will open a dialog box in which it asks you to eiahter make a new session or open a previous one. Then, a large window opens which should look familiar to you if you’ve used other audio software before.

A Wee Bit More Configuration

Go to the Options menu, then go to Autoconnect. Put a checkmark next to “Auto-connect inputs to physical inputs”. Then, again in Autoconnect, put a checkmark next to “Auto-connect outputs to physical outputs”. Finally, still in the Options menu, go to Monitoring and select “Software Monitoring”.
These options are what I think most users will need. If you have fancy hardware or whatever, you may need to do something different.

Why I Recommend Ardour

  • Quality of product – Ok, the version I’m using has a crash bug, which sucks, but it’s beta. However, this is software does everything I need it to do and does so well. It might crash occasionally, but it doesn’t glitch. And let’s face it, protools has bugs too (what version is it where sometimes, inexplicably, it wouldn’t bounce to disk?). Ardour’s bugs are less annoying than the bugs I’ve faced with protools. And the developers tend to respond to bug reports.
  • Economic – This is a fully-featured audio workstation and it’s free. The developers would like it if you donate, but if you’re an impoverished student and you can’t, that’s ok. And if you’re an impoverished non-profit/NGO and you can’t, that’s ok. Or if you’re just impovershed and you can’t, that’s ok. Sliding-scale software means access for everybody. (The corollary is that if you’re not impoverished, you should make a donation.)
  • Support – Help is always available via IRC or the forums on the Ardour website. Also, unlike certain other software companies (grr), the developers of Ardour aren’t going to suddenly drop support for you to force you to purchase an upgrade.

Blogged with Flock

Audio software on 10.5 / Intel

Audacity

I’ve been starting to try to record things on my new mac, despite feeling cruddy with a bad cold. I first started out with trying to use the beta version of Audacity. It acted much more like an alpha version. After the 4th crash in which all my data was lost, I took a look back at the non-beta version of Audacity. This seems to be stable and work well. However, it just doesn’t have enough features to use it for composing. It’s great for recording a vocal-only podcast or running FX on pre-existing audio, but it’s not going to cut it for my needs now. So I turned to Ardour.

Ardour

Ardour does just about everything I need. It’s a competitor to Protools and Digital Performer. And it’s free!! W00t. In the past, I only ever used this on my macmini because I had a disk space shortage on my old laptop. I was less worried about the program itself and more concerned about having space for y projects. Audio files can take up a lot of space.
It has some system requirements. If you’re on 10.4, you will need to install x-windows, if you don’t already have it, which means you need to go dig out your system disk. If you’re on 10.5, you will have other issues. It requires a helper application called Jack.

Jack

Jack is awesome. If you’re on intel, once you install it, you will need to open /Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup. Under the Audio menu, open the Aggregate Device Editor.
Aggregate Device Editor

At the top part, you can create aggregate devices and give them names. In the bottom part, you can see the actual audio devices on your computer, with check boxes next to them. Check the ones that you want to use.
Then, you need to configure jack. Fire up JackPilot. You need to tell the preferences to use your aggregate device.

JackPilot Preferences

Patching the X version

10.4 is now ready to go, but 10.5 has some changes in how X windows is handled. You have two options on running Ardour. One is to run a patch. The development team has already figured out how to solve this problem, but they’re short staffed or something and haven’t updated the version or download. Ergo, you need to apply some small changes to the program by typing a few things at the prompt. This is easy enough, but if you don’t like prompts, skip to the alternate solution.
The terminal application is located at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal. Open it up. Between you and me, the terminal is awesome. It gives you all kinds of power over your computer. In a future post, I’ll link to a cool manual, but I can’t find it right now, alas. Anyway. Here’s what you do:

  1. Select the following text and copy it (by going to Copy under the Edit Menu or typing apple-C)
    Index: script
    ===================================================================
    --- script      (revision 2354)
    +++ script      (working copy)
    @@ -32,17 +32,22 @@
         sed 's/xterm/# xterm/' /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc >> ~/.xinitrc
     fi
     
    -mkdir -p $TMP
    -cp -f "$CWD/bin/getdisplay.sh" $TMP
    -rm -f $TMP/display
    -open-x11 $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    -open -a XDarwin $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    -echo ":0" > $TMP/display
    +if uname -r | grep -sq '^9' ; then
    +    # leopard will auto-start X11 for us
    +    :
    +else 
    +    mkdir -p $TMP
    +    cp -f "$CWD/bin/getdisplay.sh" $TMP
    +    rm -f $TMP/display
    +    open-x11 $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    +       open -a XDarwin $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    +       echo ":0" > $TMP/display
     
    -while [ "$?" == "0" -a ! -f $TMP/display ]; do sleep 1; done
    -export "DISPLAY=`cat $TMP/display`"
    +    while [ "$?" == "0" -a ! -f $TMP/display ]; do sleep 1; done
    +    export "DISPLAY=`cat $TMP/display`"
     
    -ps -wx -ocommand | grep -e '[X]11' > /dev/null || exit 11
    +    ps -wx -ocommand | grep -e '[X]11' > /dev/null || exit 11
    +fi
     
     cd ~/
     shift
    
    
  2. Ok, now be relaxed. If you don’t want to know more about what that code is doing, you don’t have to. Go to your terminal and in the window there, type:
    cd; cat > ardpatch
  3. Now, still in your terminal window, paste in all the code from the clip board, by selecting paste in the edit menu or typing apple-v
  4. Still in the terminal window, type ctrl-d. What you did just then was change to your home directory (with “cd”) and then put the code into a file called “ardpatch” (with the cat > ardpatch). And then closed that file by typing ctrl-d.
  5. Ok, now you need to know the directory where you put Ardour. If you put it in /Applications, then you’re going to type:
    cd /Applications/Ardour2.app/Contents/Resources/

    but if you put it in a folder in /Applications called Audio, then what you’ll need to type is:

    cd /Applications/Audio/Ardour2.app/Contents/Resources/

    cd is changing directory and you need it to change to a hidden directory inside Ardour, so the first part is the location where you stuck the program.

  6. Then type:
    patch -p0 < ~/ardpatch

    It will tell you strange things and possibly give you an error. Ignore all that. Instead, start jack with JackPilot and then click on the Ardour2 icon to start the program. It should start up, but for me, this took several minutes, I think just because it was the first time.

You only have to apply the patch once, so you're good to go from now on. Or you can try a riskier but easier route.

Native Version

Beta software is always fun, isn't it? You can try running the native version instead. It's beta. It could crash terribly. I haven't tested it much, so I can't recommend it or warn you away or do anythng else aside from tell you it's semi-secret location.
Well, it's more an open secret. I got it from the IRC channel on freenode. If you need help, that's a good place to go, by the way. (Is IRC undergoing a renaissance or is it just me?)
The native version is at http://ardour.org/files/releases/Ardour2.2-Intel-2920.zip
It's probably a secret for a reason. I'll give it a try this afternoon and let y'all know what I think.
The native version still requires Jack. You will still need to do all the Jack configuration listed near the top.

Conclusion

The nice thing about configurations is that you usually only need to do them once. Given the amount of awesomeness crammed into Ardour, it's totally worth the bother.

Feminism and FLOSS

Introduction

Let’s start this with some definitions. (No, this isn’t about feminism and gum disease (although that might also be interesting).) FLOSS stands for “Free (Libre) Open Source Software.” As they say, that’s “free” as in speech, not “free” as in beer. FLOSS refers to software projects in which participation is more open. Users can get copies of the source code (this is the stuff that programmers make. you can change it and thus change the program) and do whatever they like with it, as long as what they distribute is also FLOSS. This is what we mean by “free.”
However, to be clear, the distribution model of FLOSS means it is often also available without monetary exchange. Users can go to a website and get tons of cool software for their computer, including an operating system. You can get computer hardware and never pay for any of the programs on it and do this without piracy or stealing. And if you have technical skills and really like a piece of software, you can even add features to it. Or, you can ask for the feature and somebody might even listen to you and do it.

Every piece of software has a certain community aspect. The users are a group of people who care about the software. Thus, all software has some community. But proprietary software owned by big companies can afford to ignore this community or even work against them. Many of the mis-features in the new version of windows were added at the bequest of media companies and are contrary to the needs and desires of the user community. This dynamic is less present in FLOSS software because the user community has direct access to the very essence of the software. If something unpopular gets stuck in, they can take it back out. Thus FLOSS software is inherently democratic, existing squarely within the free marketplace of ideas. The users own the software.
Therefore FLOSS empowers the user. This dynamic tends to have implications in the social dynamic among users. Many FLOSS programs have online resources to help users and the community will often offer help and support to each other. For example a FLOSS thing I use has an IRC group (a chat room). Many users log in and keep it open in the background. If they have a problem, they can ask about it. If they notice somebody else is having a problem that they can solve, they might jump in and help.
Many of the implications and goals of FLOSS have an obvious commonality with feminist goals. In a more concise summary, my internet friend Paula (aka Bastubis) wrote:

I think FLOSS offers better possibilities [than proprietary software] for feminist use because:

  • it’s community owned
  • mutual and self-help model
  • collaborative
  • empowers the user

Women Developers

Despite all the commonality between FLOSS and feminism, it’s still the case that only around 1.5% of FLOSS developers are women. Therefore, we can conclude that while FLOSS has a commonality with feminism, it is not, in and of itself, inherently feminist or women’s participation would be higher.
Ironically, some of the very openness of FLOSS may be part of the issue. All groups have hierarchies and power imbalances. In some groups, hierarchies are formalized and in others they are not. Informal groupings are fine for consciousness raising or within groups of friends, but they can become problematic in groups that are taking more direct action. For example, let’s say a CR group decides to act on a specific issue. One person might have an idea for a protest, but, since this is a new direction for the group, before presenting it to the group as a whole, she runs it by a few friends within the group who offer suggestions. Over time, in-groups and out-groups develop, where a core group of friends discusses things before brining it to the group as a whole. This dynamic can quickly become toxic and it’s why direct action groups often have specific handbooks for how to organize themselves. You cannot try to right a power imbalance unless you first recognize that it exists.
Ironically, sometimes even more oppressive hierarchy can be better for reaching feminist goals. About 20% of corporate developers are women. Corporations invest energy in trying to recruit women and trying to avoid the appearance of sexism (to some extent). This is not because corporations are good, far from it, but because we have been able to use the legal system to force them to be less discriminatory. However, turning the legal system on FLOSS is probably not the best solution to the lack-of-diversity problem, alas.
So, given all of this, what causes women’s non-participation in FLOSS? Well, most FLOSS stuff occurs on the internet. I remember the good old days of “nobody knows if you’re a dog on the internet” and how the invisibility of identity would lead to a truly colorblind, genderblind utopia. There’s multiple problems with this ideal, which can explain where it went wrong. First of all, access issues meant that the majority of (english-speaking) people on the internet were white men. This lead users to assume that anybody they were talking to was a white men. Secondly, anoninimity causes people to act like assholes. A few assholes could spew racist, sexist, classist garbage until populations that were sensitive to this would leave. The answer to this is not to do it in reverse because it’s a terrible model of how to behave and because it just won’t work. White guys are priviliged and this makes them less vulnerable to this kind of attack. So they’re in a position where they can exert this power and have no negative consequences for it. Probably, these are people who don’t feel terribly empowered in their daily lives. In the offline world, most gay bashers are teen boys who are alarmed about their own sexuality.
Informal hierarchies on online forums, coupled with conditions created by institutionalized oppression, therefore can create an environment which is explicitly hostile to women (and other minority groups). Because everyone is equally empowered, nobody is empowered to stop harassers, trolls, and vocal bigots. Indeed, a completely open forum is a situation where a troll (or a spammer) can destroy a community, by creating so much garbage that any meaningful communication is effectively drowned out. The way to solve this problem is to create a more formalized hierarchy, where certain users are granted the power to ban certain users or remove certain posts. These super-empowered users are called moderators. They keep spammers and trolls at bay. There are more refined models of moderation, such as rotating moderatorship or systems where comments are voted on and given certain scores (so users can elect to see only high-scoring comments).
However, moderation is only as good as the moderator(s). If the moderators don’t care about sexism, an informal hierarchy based on sex can still exist. These partially unmoderated portions of the internet are often explicitly hostile to women. The moderated sections are less hostile, but there’s still the nobody-knows-if-you’re-a-dog invisibility. Everyone around you is (apparently) a white man. This does not create a welcoming environment.
So what to do about women in FLOSS? As the hierarchies are most often informal, a legal remedy is probably not the answer. Therefore, I think there are two approaches we should explore. One is to work with prominent FLOSS organizations, like GNU, to put women in high profile positions. I think the Ubuntu group is probably receptive to this. This would create a situation where women FLOSS contributors are more visible.
The other approach is affinity groups. Having groups of women working together on FLOSS creates visibility and an a community which is specifically welcoming to them, potentially attracting more women to become active in FLOSS.
I think there’s also a financial issue Do FLOSS developers get paid for their work? (Frankly, I don’t want to add to the amount of unpaid labor already extracted from women.) Programmers in open source may be living off of donations to their projects. They may be funded by corporations and foundations. Some just do it in their free time. The grass-roots kind of FLOSS that we’re talking about is more in the free-time category of development. I’m guessing that the men who do free time development have some sort of infrastructure to support them. They’re students. Or they’re married and have a woman picking up after them or they have a maid (a woman picking up after them). By contrast, women who are not students usually have to pick up after themselves.

Non-profits

The ideals of FLOSS have a great synchronicity with non-profit enterprises, but if we want women who are in non-profits, and thus already getting low pay, to take up FLOSS development, it needs to be part of their job, not something for their free time. The good news about this is that there is funding out there.
If we want women who are in non-profits to take up FLOSS tools, we need to give them training and support, face to face, through affinity groups. The money they save on software licenses will make it worth their time. Also, we as developers need to make sure that the tools we give them are self-explanatory. If they want to get a volunteer to come in for an afternoon and do something, they want hir to just be able to sit down and do it, without having to spend too much time learning the system.

Conclusions

FLOSS and feminism could and should work together. To ensure that this happens on the development side, we need to push for both visibility and anti-sexist moderation policies. We can create visibility by getting women into visible formally hierarchical organizations that already exist and by creating our own such organizations. On the user side, we should specifically offer support through affinity groups, so that women have an explicitly welcoming environment where they can learn about FLOSS tools. Furthermore, we should specifically reach out to feminist non-profits as a means to help them become more effective and thus advance the cause of feminism in the brick and mortar world, as well as online.