Linux, Linus, Bradley, and Open Source Protection

Last week a bun-fight kicked off on the Linux kernel mailing list that led to some interesting questions about how and when we protect open source projects from bad actors. This also shone the light on some interesting community dynamics.

The touchpaper was lit when Bradley Kuhn, president of the Software Freedom Conservancy (an organization that provides legal and administrative services for free software and open source projects) posted a reply to Greg KH on the Linux kernel mailing list:

I observe now that the last 10 years brought something that never occurred before with any other copylefted code. Specifically, with Linux, we find both major and minor industry players determined to violate the GPL, on purpose, and refuse to comply, and tell us to our faces: “you think that we have to follow the GPL? Ok, then take us to Court. We won’t comply otherwise.” (None of the companies in your historical examples ever did this, Greg.) And, the decision to take that position is wholly in the hands of the violators, not the enforcers.

He went on to say:

In response, we have two options: we can all decide to give up on the GPL, or we can enforce it in Courts.

This rather ruffled Linus’s feathers who feels that lawyers are more part of the problem than the solution:

The fact is, the people who have created open source and made it a success have been the developers doing work – and the companies that we could get involved by showing that we are not all insane crazy people like the FSF. The people who have destroyed projects have been lawyers that claimed to be out to “save” those projects.

What followed has been a long and quite interesting discussion that is still rumbling on.

In a nutshell, this rather heated (and at times unnecessarily personal) debate has focused on when is the right time to defend the rights on the GPL. Bradley is of the view that these rights should be intrinsically defended as they are as important (if not more important) than the code. Linus is of the view that the practicalities of the software industry mean sending in the lawyers can potentially have an even more damaging effect as companies will tense up and choose to stay away.

Ethics and Pragmatism

Now, I have no dog in this race. I am a financial supporter of the Software Freedom Conservancy and the Free Software Foundation. I have an active working relationship with the Linux Foundation and I am friends with all the main players in this discussion, Linus, Greg, Bradley, Karen, Matthew, and Jeremy. I am not on anyone’s “side” here and I see value in the different perspectives brought to the table.

With that said, the core of this debate is the balance of ethics and pragmatism, something which has existed in open source and free software for a long time.

Linus and Bradley are good examples of either side of the aisle.

Linus has always been a pragmatic guy, and his stewardship of Linux has demonstrated that. Linus prioritizes the value of the GPL for practical software engineering and community-building purposes more-so than wider ideological free software ambitions. With Linus, practicality and tangible output come first.

Bradley is different. For Bradley, software freedom is first and foremost a moral issue. Bradley’s talents and interests lay with the legal and copyright aspects more-so than software engineering, so naturally his work has focused on licensing, copyright, and protection.

Now, this is not to suggest Linus doesn’t have ethics or that Bradley isn’t pragmatic, but their priorities are drawn in different areas. This results in differences in expectations, tone, and approach, with this debate being a good example.

Linus and Bradley are not alone here. For a long time there have been differences between organizations such as the Linux Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and the Open Source Initiative. Again, each of these organizations draw their ethical and pragmatic priorities differently and they attract supporters who commonly share those similar lines in the sand.

I am a supporter of all of these organizations. I believe the Linux Foundation has had an unbelievably positive effect in normalizing and bridging the open source culture, methodology, and mindset to the wider business world. The Open Source Initiative have done wonderful work as stewards of licenses that thousands of organizations depend on. The Free Software Foundation has laid out a core set of principles around software freedom that are worthy for us all to strive for.

As such, I often take the view that everyone is bringing value, but everyone is also somewhat blinded by their own priorities and biases.

My Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, I see value in both sides of the debate.

Linus rightly raises the practicalities of the software industry. This is an industry in that is driven by a wide range of different forcing functions and pressures: politics, competition, supply/demand, historical precedent, cultural norms, and more. Many of these companies do great things, and some do shitty things. That is human beings for you.

As such, and like any industry, nothing is black and white. This isn’t as simple as Company A licenses code under the GPL and if they don’t meet the expectations of the license they should face legal consequences until they do. Each company has a delicate mix of these driving forces and Linus is absolutely right that a legal recourse could potentially have the inverse effect of reducing participation rather than improving it.

On the other hand, the GPL (or another open source license) does have to have meaning. As we have seen in countless societies in history, if rules are not enforced, humans will naturally try to break the rules. This always starts as small infractions but then ultimately grows more and more as the waters are tested. So, Bradley raises an important point, and while we should take a realistic and pragmatic approach to the norms of the industry, we do need people who are willing and able to enforce open source licenses.

The subtlety is in how we handle this. We need to lead with nuance and negotiation and not with antagonistic legal implications. The lawyers have to be a last resort and we should all be careful not to infer an overblown legal recourse for organizations that skirt the requirements of these licenses.

Anyone who has been working in this industry knows that the way you get things done in an organization is via a series of indirect nudges. We change organizations and industries with relationships, trust, and collaboration, and providing a supporting function to accomplish the outcome we want.

Of course, sometimes there has to be legal consequences, but this has to genuinely be a last resort. We need to not be under the illusion that legal action is an isolated act of protection. While legal action may protect the GPL in that specific scenario it will also freak out lots of people watching it unfold. Thus, it is critical that we consider the optics of legal action as much as the practical benefits from within that specific case.

The solution here, as is always the case, is more dialog that is empathetic to the views of those we disagree with. Linus, Bradley, and everyone else embroiled in this debate are on the right side of history. We just need to work together to find common ground and strategies: I am confident they are there.

What do you think? Do I have an accurate read on this debate? Am I missing something important? Share your thoughts below in the comments!

Join my Reddit AMA Tomorrow

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Just a short reminder that tomorrow, Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will be doing a Reddit AMA about community strategy/management, developer relations, open source, music, and anything else you folks want to ask about.

Want to ask questions about Canonical/GitHub/XPRIZE? Questions about building great communities? Questions about open source? Questions about politics or music? All questions are welcome!

To join, simply do the following:

  • Be sure to have a Reddit account. If you don’t have one, head over here and sign up.
  • On Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will share the link to my AMA on Twitter (I am not allowed to share it until we run the AMA). You can look for this tweet by clicking here.
  • Click the link in my tweet to go to the AMA and then click the text box to add your question(s).
  • Now just wait until I respond. Feel free to follow up, challenge my response, and otherwise have fun!

I hope to see you all tomorrow!

Social Media: 10 Ways To Not Screw It Up

Social media is everywhere. Millions of users, seemingly almost as many networks, and many agencies touting that they have mastered the zen-like secrets to social media and can bring incredible traction.

While social media has had undeniable benefits to many, it has also been contorted and twisted in awkward ways. For every elegant, well deliver social account there are countless blatant attention-grabbing efforts.

While I am by no means a social media expert, over the years I have picked up some techniques and approaches that I have found useful with the communities, companies, and clients I have worked with. My goal has always been to strike a good balance between quality, engagement, and humility.

I haven’t always succeeded, but here are 10 things I recommend you do if you want to do social media well:

1. Focus on Your Core Networks

There are loads of social media networks out there. For some organizations there is an inherent temptation to grow an audience on all of them. More audiences mean more people, right?

Well, not really.

As with most things in life, it is better to have focus and deliver quality than to spread yourself too thin. So, pick a few core networks and focus on them. Focus on delivering great content, growing your audience, and engaging well.

My personal recommendations are to focus n Twitter and Facebook for sure, as they have significant traction, but also Instagram and Google+ are good targets too. It is really up to you though for what works best for your organization/goals.

2. Configure Your Accounts Well

Every social media network has some options for choosing an avatar, banner, and adding a little text. It is important to get this right.

Put yourself in the position of your audience. Imagine they don’t know who you are and they stumble on your profile. Sure, a picture of a care bear and a quote from The Big Lebowski may look cool, but it doesn’t help the reader.

Their reading of this content is going to result in a judgement call about you. So, reflect yourself accurately. Want to be a professional? Look and write professionally. Want to be a movie fan who believes in magical bears? Well, erm, I guess you know what to do.

It is also important to do this for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you want more Google juice for your name/organization, be sure to incorporate it in your profiles and content.

3. Quality vs. Quantity

A while back I spent a bit of time working with some folks who were really into social media. They had all kinds of theories about how the Facebook and Twitter algorithms prioritize content, hide it from users, and only display certain types of content to others. Of course this is not an exact science as these algorithms are typically confidential to those networks.

There is no doubt that social networks have to make some kind of judgement on what to show – there is just too much material to show it all. So, we want to be mindful of these restrictions, but also be wary that a lot of this is guessing.

The trick here is simple: focus on delivering high quality content and just don’t overdo it. Posting 50 tweets in a day is not going to help – it will be too much and probably not high quality (likely due to the quantity). Even if your audience sees it all, it will just seem spammy.

Now, you may be asking what high quality content would look like? Fundamentally I see it as understanding your audience, how they communicate, and mirroring those interests and tonality. Some examples:

  • Well written content that is concise, loose, and fun.
  • Interesting thoughts, ideas, and discussions.
  • Links to interesting articles, data, and other material.
  • Interesting embedded pictures, videos, and other content.

Speaking of embedding…

4. Embed Smartly

All the networks allow you to embed pictures and videos in your social posts.

Where possible, always embed something. It typically results in higher performing posts both in terms of views and click-rate.

Video has proven to do very well on social media networks. People are naturally curious and click the video to see it. Be mindful here though – posting a 45 minute documentary isn’t going to work well. A 2 minute clip will work great though.

Also, check how different networks display videos. For example, on Twitter and Google+, YouTube videos get a decent sized thumbnail and are simple to play. On Facebook though, YouTube videos are noticeably smaller (likely because Facebook doesn’t want people embedding YouTube videos). So, when posting on Facebook, uploading a native video might be best.

Pictures are an interesting one. A few tips:

  • Square pictures work especially well. They resize well in most social interfaces to take up the maximum amount of space.
  • The ideal size is 505×505 pixels on Facebook. I have found this size to work well on other networks too.
  • Images that work particularly well are high contrast and have large letters. They stand out more in a feed and make people want to click them. An example of an image I am using for my Reddit AMA next week:

Social Media

Authenticity is essential in any human communication. As humans we are constantly advertised to, sold, and marketed at, and thus evolution has increasingly expanded our bullshit radar.

This radar gets triggered when we see inauthentic content. Examples of this include content trying to be overly peppy, material that requires too many commitments (e.g. registrations), or clickbait. A classic example from our friends at Microsoft:

Social Media

Social media is fundamentally about sharing and discussion and representing content and tonality that matches your audience. Make sure that you do both authentically.

Share openly, and discuss openly. Act and talk like a human, not a business book, don’t try to be someone you are not, and you will find your audience enjoys your content and finds your efforts rewarding.

6. Connect and Schedule Your Content

Managing all these social media networks is a pain. Of course, there are many tools that you can use for extensive analytics, content delivery, and team collaboration. While these are handy for professional social media people, for many people they are not particularly necessary.

What I do recommend for everyone though is Buffer.

The idea is simple. Buffer lets you fill a giant bucket full of social media posts that will hit the major networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (pages), and Instagram. You then set a schedule for when these posts should go out and Buffer will take care of sending them for you at an optimal chosen time.

Part of the reason I love this is that if you have a busy week and forget to post on social media, you know that you are always sharing content. Speaking personally, I often line up my posts on a Sunday night and then periodically post during the week.

Speaking of optimal times…

7. Timing Is Everything

If you want your content to get a decent number of views and clicks, there are definitely better times than others to post.

Much of this depends on your audience and where you are geographically. As an example, while I have a fairly global audience for my work, a significant number of people are based in US. As such, I have found that the best time for my content is in the morning between 8am and 9am Pacific. This then still hits Europe and out towards India.

To figure out the best time for you, post some social posts and look at the analytics to see which times work best. Each social network has analytics available and Buffer provides a nice analytics view too, although the nicer stats require a professional plan.

Knowing what is the best time to post combined with the scheduled posting capabilities of Buffer is a great combo.

8. Deliver Structured Campaigns

You might also want to explore some structured campaigns for your social media efforts. These are essentially themed campaigns designed to get people interested or involved.

A few examples:

  • Twitter Chats – here you simply choose a hashtag and some guests, announce the chat, and then invite your guests to answer the questions via Twitter and for the audience to respond. They can be rather fun.
  • Calls For Action – again, choose a hashtag, and ask your audience for feedback to certain questions. This could be questions, suggestions, content, and more.
  • Thematic Content – here you post a series of posts with similar images or videos attached.

You are only limited by your imagination, but remember, be authentic. Social media is riddled with cheesy last-breath attempts at engagement. Don’t be one of those people.

9. Don’t Take Yourself too Seriously

There has much various studies to suggest social media encourages narcissism. There is certainly observational evidence that backs this up.

You should be proud of your work, proud of your projects, and focus on doing great things. Always try to ensure that you are down to earth though, and demonstrate a grounded demeanor in your posts. No one likes ego, and it is more tempting than ever to use social media as a platform for a confidence boost and increasingly post ego-drive narcissistic content.

Let’s be honest, we have all made this mistake from time to time. I know I have. We are human beings, after all.

As I mentioned earlier, you always want to try to match your tonality to your audience. For some global audiences though it can be tempting to err on the side of caution and be a little too buttoned up. This often ends up being just boring. Be professional, sure, but surprise your audience in your humanity, your humility, and that there is a real person behind the tweet or post.

10. What Not To Do

Social media can be a lot of fun and with some simple steps (such as these) you can perform some successful and rewarding work. There are a few things I would recommend you don’t do though:

  • Unless you want to be a professional provocateur, avoid deliberately fighting with your audience. You will almost certainly disagree with many of your followers on some political stances – picking fights won’t get you anywhere.
  • Don’t go and follow everyone for the purposes of getting followed back. When I see that Joe Bloggs has 5,434 followers and is following 5,654 people, it smacks of this behavior. πŸ˜‰
  • Don’t be overtly crass. I know some folks online, and even worked with some people, who just can’t help dropping F bombs, crass jokes, and more online. Be fun, be a little edgy, but keep it classy, people.

So, that’s it. Just a few little tips and tricks I have learned over the years. I hope some of this helps. If you found it handy, click those social buttons on the side and practice what you preach and share this post. πŸ™‚

I would love to learn from you though. What approaches, methods, and techniques have you found for doing social media better? Share your ideas in the comment box and let’s have a discussion…

Bacon Roundup – 23rd August 2016

Well, hello there, people. I am back with another Bacon Roundup which summarizes some of the various things I have published recently. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest posts right to your inbox.

Also, don’t forget that I am doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Tues 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific. Find out the details here.

Without further ado, the roundup:

Building a Career in Open Source (opensource.com)
A piece I wrote about how to build a successful career in open source. It delves into finding opportunity, building a network, always learning/evolving, and more. If you aspire to work in open source, be sure to check it out.

Cutting the Cord With Playstation Vue (jonobacon.org)
At home we recently severed ties with DirecTV (for lots of reasons, this being one), and moved our entertainment to a Playstation 4 and Playstation Vue for TV. Here’s how I did it, how it works, and how you can get in on the action.

Running a Hackathon for Security Hackers (jonobacon.org)
Recently I have been working with HackerOne and we recently ran a hackathon for some of the best hackers in the world to hack popular products and services for fun and profit. Here’s what happened, how it looked, and what went down.

Opening Up Data Science with data.world (jonobacon.org)
Recently I have also been working with data.world who are building a global platform and community for data, collaboration, and insights. This piece delves into the importance of data, the potential for data.world, and what the future might hold for a true data community.

From The Archive

To round out this roundup, here are a few pieces I published from the archive. As usual, you can find more here.

Using behavioral patterns to build awesome communities (opensource.com)
Human beings are pretty irrational a lot of the time, but irrational in predictable ways. These traits can provide a helpful foundation in which we build human systems and communities. This piece delves into some practical ways in which you can harness behavioral economics in your community or organization.

Atom: My New Favorite Code Editor (jonobacon.org)
Atom is an extensible text editor that provides a thin and sleek core and a raft of community-developed plugins for expanding it into the editor you want. Want it like vim? No worries. Want it like Eclipse? No worries. Here’s my piece on why it is neat and recommendations for which plugins you should install.

Ultimate unconference survival guide (opensource.com)
Unconferences, for those who are new to them, are conferences in which the attendees define the content on the fly. They provide a phenomenal way to bring fresh ideas to the surface. They can though, be a little complicated to figure out for attendees. Here’s some tips on getting the most out of them.

Stay up to date and get the latest posts direct to your email inbox with no spam and no nonsense. Click here to subscribe.

Opening Up Data Science with data.world

Earlier this year when I was in Austin, my friend Andy Sernovitz introduced me to a new startup called data.world.

What caught my interest is that they are building a platform to make data science and discovery easier, more accessible, and more collaborative. I love these kinds of big juicy challenges!

Recently I signed them up as a client to help them build their community, and I want to share a few words about why I think they are important, not just for data science fans, but from a wider scientific discovery perspective.

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Armchair Discovery

Data plays a critical role in the world. Buried in rows and rows of seemingly flat content are patterns, trends, and discoveries that can help us to learn, explore new ideas, and work more effectively.

The work that leads to these discoveries is often bringing together different data sets to explore and reach new conclusions. As an example, traffic accident data for a single town is interesting, but when we combine it with data sets for national/international traffic accidents, insurance claims, drink driving, and more, we can often find patterns that can help us to influence and encourage new behavior and technology.

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Many of these discoveries are hiding in plain sight. Sadly, while talented data scientists are able to pull together these different data sets, it is often hard and laborious work. Surely if we make this work easier, more accessible, consistent, and available to all we can speed up innovation and discovery?

Exactly.

As history has taught us, the right mixture of access, tooling, and community can have a tremendous impact. We have seen examples of this in open source (e.g. GitLab / GitHub), funding (e.g. Kickstarter / Indiegogo), and security (e.g. HackerOne).

data.world are doing this for data.

Data Science is Tough

There are four key areas where I think data.world can make a potent impact:

  1. Access – while there is lots of data in the world, access is inconsistent. Data is often spread across different sites, formats, and accessible to different people. We can bring this data together into a consistent platform, available to everyone.
  2. Preparation – much of the work data scientists perform is learning and prepping datasets for use. This work should be simplified, done once, and then shared with everyone, as opposed to being performed by each person who consumes the data.
  3. Collaboration – a lot of data science is fairly ad-hoc in how people work together. In much the same way open source has helped create common approaches for code, there is potential to do the same with data.
  4. Community – there is a great opportunity to build a diverse global community, not just of data scientists, but also organizations, charities, activists, and armchair sleuths who, armed with the right tools and expertise, could make many meaningful discoveries.

This is what data.world is building and I find the combination of access, platform, and network effects of data and community particularly exciting.

Unlocking Curiosity

If we look at the most profound impacts technology has had in recent years it is in bubbling people’s curiosity and creativity to the surface.

When we build community-based platforms that tap into this curiosity and creativity, we generate new ideas and approaches. New ideas and approaches then become the foundation for changing how the world thinks and operates.

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As one such example, open source tapped the curiosity and creativity of developers to produce a rich patchwork of software and tooling, but more importantly, a culture of openness and collaboration. While it is easy to see the software as the primary outcome, the impact of open source has been much deeper and impacted skills, education, career opportunities, business, collaboration, and more.

Enabling the same curiosity and creativity with the wealth of data we have in the world is going to be an exciting journey. Stay tuned.

Join My Reddit AMA – 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific

On Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will be doing a Reddit AMA about my work in community strategy, management, developer relations, open source, music, and elsewhere.

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For those unfamiliar with Reddit AMAs, it is essentially a way in which people can ask questions that someone will respond to. You simply add your questions (serious, or fun both welcome!) and I will respond to as many as I can.

It has been a while since my last AMA, so I am looking forward to this one.

Feel free to ask any questions you like, and this could include questions that relate to:

  • Community management, leadership, and best practice.
  • Working at Canonical, GitHub, XPRIZE, and elsewhere.
  • The open source industry, how it has changed, and what the future looks like.
  • The projects I have been involved in such as Ubuntu, GNOME, KDE, and others.
  • The driving forces behind people and groups, behavioral economics, etc.
  • My other things such as my music, conferences, writing etc.
  • Anything else – politics, movies, news, tech…ask away!

If you want to ask about something else though, go ahead! πŸ™‚

How to Join

Joining the AMA is simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Be sure to have a Reddit account. If you don’t have one, head over here and sign up.
  • On Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will share the link to my AMA on Twitter (I am not allowed to share it until we run the AMA). You can look for this tweet by clicking here.
  • Click the link in my tweet to go to the AMA and then click the text box to add your question(s).
  • Now just wait until I respond. Feel free to follow up, challenge my response, and otherwise have fun!

Simple as that. πŸ™‚

A Bit of Background

For those of you unfamiliar with my work, you can read more here, but here is a quick summary:

  • I run a community strategy/management and developer relations consultancy practice.
  • My clients include Deutsche Bank, HackerOne, data.world, Intel, Sony Mobile, Open Networking Foundation, and others.
  • I previously served as director of community for GitHub, Canonical, and XPRIZE.
  • I serve as an advisor to various organizations including Open Networking Foundation, Mycroft AI, Mod Duo, and Open Cloud Consortium.
  • I wrote The Art of Community and have columns for Forbes and opensource.com. I have also written four other books and hundreds of articles.
  • I have been involved with various open source projects including Ubuntu, GNOME, KDE, Jokosher, and others.
  • I am an active podcaster, previously with LugRadio and Shot of Jaq, and now with Bad Voltage.
  • I am really into music and have played in Seraphidian and Severed Fifth.

So, I hope you manage to make it over to the AMA, ask some fun and interesting questions, and we can have a good time. Thanks!

Cutting the Cord With Playstation Vue

We just cut the cord, and glory is ours. I thought I would share how we did it to provide food for thought for those of you sick of cable (and maybe so people can stop bickering on my DirecTV blog post from years back).

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I will walk through the requirements we had, what we used to have, and what the new setup looks like.

Requirements

The requirements for us are fairly simple:

  • We want access to a core set of channels:
    • Comedy Central
    • CNN
    • Food Network
    • HGTV
    • Local Channels (e.g. CBS, NBC, ABC).
  • Be able to favorite shows and replay them after they have aired.
  • Have access to streaming channels/services:
    • Amazon Prime
    • Netflix
    • Crackle
    • Spotify
    • Pandora
  • Be able to play Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and other optical content. While we rarely do this, we want the option.
  • Have a reliable Internet connection and uninterrupted service.
  • Have all of this both in our living room and in our bedroom.
  • Reduce our costs.
  • Bonus: access some channels on mobile devices. Sometimes I would like to watch the daily show or the news while on the elliptical on my tablet.

Previous Setup

Our previous setup had most of these requirements in place.

For TV we were with DirecTV. We had all of the channels that we needed and we could record TV downstairs but also replay it upstairs in the bedroom.

We have a Roku that provides the streaming channels (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle, Spotify, and Pandora).

We also have a cheap Blueray player which while rarely used, does come in handy from time time.

Everything goes into Pioneer Elite amp and I tried to consolidate the remotes with a Logitech Harmony but it broke immediately and I have heard from others the quality is awful. As such, we used a cheaper all in one remote which could do everything except the Roku as that is bluetooth.

The New Setup

At the core of our new setup is a Playstation 4. I have actually had this for a while but it has been sat up in my office and barely used.

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The Playstation 4 provides the bulk of what we need:

  • Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Spotify. I haven’t found a Pandora app yet, but this is fine.
  • Blueray playback.
  • Obviously we have the additional benefit of now being able to play games downstairs. I am enjoying having a blast on Battlefield from time to time and I installed some simple games for Jack to play on.

For the TV we are using Playstation Vue. This is a streaming service that has the most comprehensive set of channels I have seen so far, and the bulk of what we wanted is in the lowest tier plan ($40/month). I had assessed some other services but key channels (e.g. Comedy Central) were missing.

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Playstation Vue has some nice features:

  • It is a lot cheaper. Our $80+/month cable bill has now gone down to $40/month with Vue.
  • The overall experience (e.g. browsing the guide, selecting shows, viewing information) is far quicker, more modern, and smoother than the clunky old DirecTV box.
  • When browsing the guide you can not just watch live TV but also watch previous shows that were on too. For example, missed The Daily Shows this week? No worries, you can just go back and watch them.
  • Playstation Vue is also available on Android, IOS, Roku and other devices which means I can watch TV and play back shows wherever I am.

In terms of the remote control I bought the official Playstation 4 remote and it works pretty well. It is still a little clunky in some areas as the apps on the Playstation sometimes refer to the usual playstation buttons as opposed to the buttons on the remote. Overall though it works great and it also powers my other devices (e.g. TV and amp), although I couldn’t get volume pass-through working.

Networking wise, we have a router upstairs in the bedroom which is where the feed comes in. I then take a cable from it and send it over our power lines with a Ethernet Over Power adapter. Then, downstairs I have an additional router which is chained and I take ethernet from the router to the Playstation. This results in considerably more reliable performance than using wireless. This is a big improvement as the Roku doesn’t have an ethernet port.

In Conclusion

Overall, we love the new setup. The Playstation 4 is a great center-point for our entertainment system. It is awesome having a single remote, everything on one box and in one interface. I also love the higher-fidelity experience – the Roku is great but the interface looks a little dated and the apps are rather restricted.

Playstation Vue is absolutely awesome and I would highlight recommend it for people looking to ditch cable. You don’t even need a Playstation 4 – you can use it on a Roku, for example.

I also love that we are future proofed. I am planning on getting Playstation VR, which will now work downstairs, and Sony are bringing more and more content and apps to the Playstation Store. For example, there are lots of movies, TV shows, and other content which may not be available elsewhere.

I would love to hear your stories though about your cord cutting. Which services and products did you move to? What do you think about a games console running your entertainment setup? What am I doing wrong? Let me know in the comments!

Running a Hackathon for Security Hackers

A few weeks ago I flew out to Las Vegas with HackerOne to help run an event we had been working on for a while called H1-702. It was a hackathon designed for some of the world’s most talented security hackers.

H1-702 was one piece in a picture to ensure HackerOne is the very best platform and community for hackers to hack, learn, and grow.

This was the event that we invite the cream of the crop to…hackers who have been doing significant and sustained work and who have delivered some awesome vulnerability reports.

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Hacking For Fun and Profit

For the event we booked a MGM Grand Skyloft for three evenings. We invited the most prolific hackers on HackerOne to join us where they would be invited to hack on a specific company’s technology each night. They didn’t learn about which company it was until the evening they arrived…this kept a bit of mystery in the air. πŸ˜‰

The first night had Zenefits, the second Snapchat, and the third Panasonic Avionics. This was a nice mixture of web, mobile, and embedded.

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Each evening Hackers were provided with the scope and then invited to hack these different products and submit vulnerabilities. Each company had their security team and developers on-hand where they would be able to answer questions, review and confirm reports quickly (and then fix the issues.)

Confirmed reports would result in a payout from the company and reputation points. This would then bump the hacker higher up on the H1-702 leaderboard and closer to winning the prestige of H1-702 Most Valued Hacker, complete with a pretty badass winners belt. As you can imagine, things got a little competitive. πŸ˜‰

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Each evening kicked off at around 7pm – 8pm and ran until the wee hours. The first night, for example, I ended up heading to bed at around 5.30am and they were still going.

There was an awesome electricity in the air and these hackers really brought their A-game. Lots of hackers walked out the door having made thousands of dollars for an evening’s hacking.

While competitive, it was also social, with people having a good time and getting to know each other. Speaking personally, it was great to meet some hackers who I have been following for a while. It was a thrill to watch them work.

Taking Care of Your Best

In every community you always get a variance of quality and commitment. Some people will be casual contributors and some will invest significant time and energy in the community and their work. It is always critical to really take care of your best, and H1-702 was one way in how want to do this at HackerOne.

Given this, we wanted deliver a genuinely premium event for these hackers and ensure that everyone received impeccable service and attention, not just at the event but from the minute they arrived in Vegas. After all, they have earned it.

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This was an exercise in detail. We ensured we had a comfortable event space in a cool hotel. We had oodles of booze, with some top-shelf liquor. We provided food throughout the evening and brought in-chair massages later in the night to re-invigorate everyone. We provided plenty of seating, both in quiet and noisier spaces, lots of power sockets and we worked to have fast and reliable Internet. We provided each hacker with a HackerOne backpack, limited edition t-shirts, and other swag such as H1-702 challenge coins. We ensured that there was always someone hackers could call to solve problems, and we were receptive to feedback each night to improve it the following night.

Throughout the evening we worked to cater to the needs of hackers. We had members of HackerOne helping hackers solve problems, keep everyone hydrated and fed, and having a good time. HackerOne CEO MΓ₯rten Mickos was also running around like a waiter (amusingly with a white towel) ensuring everyone had drinks in their hands.

Overall, it was a fun event and while it went pretty well, there is always plenty to learn and improve for next time. If this sounds like fun, be sure to go and sign up and hack on some programs and earn a spot next year.

My Blog is Creative Commons Licensed

Earlier this week I was asked this on Twitter:

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An entirely reasonable question given that I had entirely failed to provide clarity on how my content is licensed on each page. So, thanks, Elio, for helping me to fix this. You will now see a licensing blurb at the bottom of each post as well as a licensing drop-down item in the menu.

To clarify, all content on my blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. I have been a long-time free culture and Creative Commons fan, supporter, and artist (see my archive of music, podcasts, and more here), so this license is a natural choice.

Let’s now explore what you can do with my content under the parameters of this license.

What You Can Do

The license is pretty simple. You are allowed to:

  • Share – feel free to share my blog posts with whoever you want.
  • Remix – you are welcome to use my posts and create derived works from them.

…there is a requirement though. You are required to provide attribution for my content. I don’t need a glowing missive about how the article changed your life, just a few words that reference me as the author and point to the original article, that’s all. Something like:

‘My Blog is Creative Commons Licensed’ originally written by Jono Bacon and originally published at http://www.jonobacon.org/2016/08/12/my-blog-is-creative-commons-licensed/

will be great. Thanks!

To learn more about your rights with my content, so the license details.

What I Would Love You Do

So, that’s what you are allowed to do, but what would I selfishly love you to do with my content?

Well, a bunch of things:

  • Share it – I try to write things on this blog that are helpful to others, but it is only helpful if people read it. So, your help sharing and submitting my posts on and to social media, news sites, other blogs, and elsewhere is super helpful.
  • Include and reference it in other work – I always love to see my work included and referenced in other blog posts, books, research papers, and elsewhere. If you find something useful in my writing, feel free to go ahead and use it.
  • Translate it – I would love to see my posts translated into different languages, just like Elio offered to do. If you do make a translation, let me know so I can add a link to it in the original article.

Of course, if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch and whether you just read my content or choose to share, derive, or translate it, thanks for being a part of it! πŸ™‚

Speaking at Abstractions

Update: my talk has been moved to 1.30pm on Friday 19th August 2016.

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be zooming my way on the reddest of red eyes to Pittsburgh, PA to speak at Abstractions next week.

I first heard about Abstractions some time ago and I was pretty stunned by the speaker roster which includes Jeffrey Zeldman, Richard Stallman, Mitchell Hashimoto, Larry Wall, and others.

I absolutely love events such as Abstractions. The team have clearly worked hard to put together a solid event with a great line-up, professional look and feel, great speaker relations, and more.

Building a Community Exoskeleton

I am going to delivering a talk on Friday at 4.20pm called Building a Community Exoskeleton. The abstract:

Community is at the core of all successful open source projects. The challenge is that building empowered, productive, and inclusive communities is complex work that lives in the connective tissue between technology and people. In this new presentation from Jono Bacon, he will share some insight into how you can build an exoskeleton that wraps around community members to help them to do great work, form meaningful relationships, and help each other to be successful. The presentation will delve into success stories in open source and elsewhere, the underlying behavioral principles we can tap into, infrastructure and workflow decisions, and how we get people through the door and involved in our projects. Bacon will also cover the risks and potholes you will want to delicately swerve around. If you are running an existing project or company, or starting something new, be sure to get along to this presentation, all delivered in Bacon’s trademark loose and amusing style.

I am hoping I will get an opportunity to see many of you there (details of how to attend are here), and I want to offer a huge thanks to the Abstractions team for their kindness, hospitality, and service. I am looking forward to getting out there!

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