The Google Summer of Code Doc Summit and OSM

For 5 days in October the Google Summer of Code Doc Summit, organized together with FLOSS Manuals, will bring together four documentation teams from open source projects, guest speakers, and free documentation ‘free agents’ to discuss everything and anything concerning the free documentation of free software. The event will feature a two day unconference and a three day Book Sprint. During the Book Sprint each project will produce a Book ready for distribution in print and electronic book formats.
The event is an ambitious project. Not only are unconferences about free software documentation scarce, never before has a Book Sprint been attempted with four projects working simultaneously on their own book. It’s going to be an extremely interesting and challenging event.
Free software documentation has often been a very low priority for free software projects. Often the documentation suffers from common flaws including:
  • no documentation existing at all
  • assumptions about the user’s knowledge are set too high
  • poor navigation
  • unexplained jargon
  • there is no visual component
  • the documentation is proprietary or ‘closed’
  • the format is unreadable
  • no translation workflow
  • operational steps are missing, unexplained, written ‘from memory’ or state how the software ‘should’ operate
  • the documentation is out of date, not easily re-usable or not easily modifiable.
The Google Summer of Code Doc Summit will attempt to discuss and address these problematic issues and look towards positive models for documentation production. We hope to shine light on the importance of the free software documentation ‘sector’ in the ecology of Free software. Free (libre) documentation is not simply an aid for learning how to use free software, it is a road into education and adoption in industry, a tool for demonstrating to clients how free software will meet their needs and expectations, and an important promotional tool for the advancement of free software. A healthy free documentation sector is both socially and economically empowering. We believe Free Documentation of Free Software efforts and ideals should be valued on the same level as free software itself and that is exactly what we plan to do at this Summit.
The Google Summer of Code Doc Summit is more than a think tank and an opportunity to discuss real world issues. Four projects, OpenMRS, KDE, Sahana, and OpenStreetMap, will have a chance to directly strengthen their documentation efforts. We look forward to working together with each of the selected teams and individuals to help them produce their own book by the end of the five day summit.
It’s going to be a great event.

Google Code-in Winners Arrive at the Googleplex

Earlier this month the Google Open Source Programs Office hosted the Grand Prize winners of the Google Code-in contest, a contest designed to introduce pre-university students (age 13-18) to the many kinds of contributions that make open source software development possible. Students worked on many types of task including: writing or refactoring code, documentation, translations, outreach/marketing, quality assurance (testing), conducting research, training, and user experience research. Students earned points for each task they completed, with the top 14 point accumulators winning a trip for themselves and a parent to the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

Day 1
Upon their arrival in the San Francisco Bay area, students had their first meet-and-greet dinner at their hotel near Google. Many students had worked with the same open source organizations so they had ‘seen’ each other in chat rooms, on IRC, and on group lists but this was the first time the students actually met one another. The bonding began right away as students quickly started moving tables together as more students arrived so that all of the students could talk to each other.

Day 2
Students and parents spent the next day at the Googleplex. The morning began with an introduction by Google Code-in Program Manager, Carol Smith, congratulating the students on their achievements and giving them a talk on Google Summer of Code, our worldwide program for university student developers giving them stipends to write code for various open source software projects.

Next, the students were treated to a talk by Alan Eustace, Google Senior Vice President of Knowledge. Alan discussed the evolution of search and where we go from here.

Three engineers in our Open Source Programs Office, Shawn Pearce, Junio Hamano and Dave Borowitz, chatted with the students about their roles at Google, their work in open source and specifically with Git.

Lilli Thompson, Game Developer Advocate for Google, discussed her role at Google and her experience as an engineer in the gaming industry.

Lunchtime at Google’s largest cafe was next on the agenda followed by a tour of the Google campus. One of the stops on the way was the picturesque front lawn of Mr. Android, complete with all of his releases: cupcake, donut, eclair, fro-yo, gingerbread and honeycomb. Perfect place for a photo op….

…then on to the Google onsite store to pick up some fun schwag to take home to friends and family.

When the students arrived back to our conference room they were welcomed with large plush bug-droids, compliments of Dan Morrill and the Android team. Dan chatted about Android and took questions from the students and parents.

Jutta Degener discussed her job as a Software Engineer working on the Borg cluster management system.

Jeremy Allison, co-creator of Samba and Open Source Programs team member, engaged the group in a lively discussion about why open source development is important to the world and the important role these students can play in the years to come.

Chris DiBona, Manager of open source at Google, encouraged the students to continue working on open source software development as they move into university. He also discussed the importance of open source software at Google and more history on the Google Summer of Code program. Then it was time for the awards ceremony for these amazing students. Chris DiBona presented each student with their engraved, very substantial (ie. heavy) awards.

We wrapped up the day with chief Java architect and Open Source Programs Office team member, Josh Bloch, running through a few Java puzzlers with the students.

Day 3
Students spent the next day of their trip in San Francisco enjoying a behind the scenes tour at the California Academy of Sciences complete with a planetarium show. To have energy for their next adventure, the group filled up on chocolate ice cream and banana splits at Ghirardelli Chocolate shop. Then the parents and students spent 2.5 hours on segways touring around Fisherman’s Wharf and the North Beach neighborhood.

The students traveled to Northern California from 8 countries: Austria, Brazil, Canada, India, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Turkey, and the United States. This group was a great representation of the talented students around the globe interested in open source software development.

The students left all of us in the Open Source Programs Office feeling lucky to have met these rising stars in the open source world. We hope to see them again in Google Summer of Code (once they are old enough) and at future open source events around the world. We’re sure this is not the last we’ll hear of these bright, hardworking, humble, gracious young adults.

Is Garmin GPS King? – 2008 GPS Navigation Comparison Video

You’ve got a busy summer ahead. Before setting out on that road trip out West or back East, you’ll have to find time to download some travel music.