Tag Archives: philippines

Philippine Open Source Summit

Back in late June, I was able to attend the Philippine Open Source Summit in Cebu. It was another good trip, both for the conference and the opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues.

The conference itself was very well attended, so it is great to see that level of interest in open source in the Philippines, and to meet a number of people involved in communities there. I hope that events like this are an encouragement to grow both individual and commercial involvement in open source in the region.

There were a number of technology-specific sessions as well, and I enjoyed catching Webtide’s Greg Wilkins giving an overview of Jetty and Deng Ching giving an overview Maven, Archiva and Continuum. Also presenting from Exist were Ludwig (Pentaho) and Erle (Eclipse plugin development), and though I was unfortunately only able to catch the last portions of each talk I’m reliably informed they went well.

I spoke there about Open Source Communities, and chose to discuss the model used at the Apache Software Foundation, and to share a few of my opinions on why it works so well, when it does. It was actually billed as a panel, sharing a time slot with two other speakers. Rather than the usual back and forth discussion, it was set up as a series of 15 minute speaking slots followed by a joint Q & A. My talk went well despite the usual hiccups with video, microphones and a partially failed attempt to introduce myself in Tagalog.

There were a number of good questions asked in our segment. The most interesting, and hardest, was the question of whether there was a challenge for Filipinos to get involved in open source projects coming from a predominantly non-confrontational culture. This can be a real difficulty, particularly as many projects are based around decision-making structures that involve public disagreement. However, my belief is that in a meritocratic open source community, respect built on accumulated merit should balance this out – and certainly in my experience, Pinoy culture emphasises respect and a non-egocentric demeanour, which makes a very valuable addition to the dynamics of an open source community.

Of course, in reality, communities are never perfect, and it comes down to individual personalities. Speaking more generally, I’d always encourage anyone to participate when they feel they have something useful to offer. If they are unable, or uncomfortable, to do that in a particular project, they have the choice to try and change it from within, or invest energy elsewhere. It’s the responsibility of the members of a project themselves to ensure they do not have any invisible barriers to participation for contributors who could make very valuable technical contributions – and it is their loss otherwise. After all, the "open" in open source is about more than just the code!

Anyway, no trip to Cebu is complete without discussing the food. We ate at a couple of old favourites there, but another stand out was a small group of us getting all-you-can-eat Japanese. I’m still recovering 3 weeks later! Good times.

 

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PSIA General Meeting

I had a busy agenda in Manila, from which I’ve just returned. Getting a bit behind on blogging about it in fact!

During the trip, I was able to attend the PSIA (Philippine Software Industry Association) General Meeting in Makati. It was a bigger than expected turn out, and a good night out. It was interesting to see what else is going on there. I was even able to play a small role, being guest judge for a contest (based on submissions of business ideas for building intellectual property).

There were a number of presentations during the evening. Deng was one, presenting a case study on the Apache Software Foundation and it’s licensing model, which she recently blogged about.

What Deng was too modest to mention in her blog was that she was also the recipient of the PSIA Honor Award during the evening. 

The award was to recognise her achievement in being the first Filipina chair of a project at the ASF. While this is admittedly a strange thing to give an award for (it’s much more of a responsibility than a privilege!), the point was made during the presentation that Apache is a meritocracy, and there is no doubt that Deng has shown merit in her time there. Knowing Deng and the responsibility, respect and humility with which she has taken on the position makes it something worth recognising.

That sort of accolade doesn’t come along every day, so I thought it was worth a plug. Congratulations Deng!

It was certainly encouraging to me to see the organisation recognising contributions to open source at that level. Even more importantly, they gave the stage to Deng to describe to people of influence in the software industry there why they should be looking at both using and producing open source, and why Apache’s license and community development model is a good choice in doing so.

Finally, the night ended with networking, drinks, and Rock Band. After a rendition of Enter Sandman, and a compulsion to sing Australian music by Jet, I decided I should really stick to the instruments and not the vocals in public from now on.

Here are a few pictures from the evening:

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Maven and Subversion at STI, Philippines

Back to school! I had the opportunity to sit in on a class last Saturday at STI in Cubao. Exist participates in an Open Source Engineering elective there, and while a number of subjects are taught, last weekend was about Subversion and Maven. The purpose of these half-day training sessions is to instruct the instructors that will eventually teach the course.

Igo presented the first subject, walking through source control in general and then the basics of setting up and using a Subversion repository. Deng presented the after-lunch shift, teaching the basics of Maven. Nap and I came along for tech support and heckling, respectively 😉

I learned a few things myself on the day. Firstly, a number of Tagalog words that describe building software :). What was also interesting was hearing someone else teach Maven. Deng, of course, did a superb job of giving an introduction to what Maven is all about. Teaching it myself is one thing – and it often becomes obvious what new users struggle with – but watching in the 3rd person makes it even more acute. Maven is certainly making building software easier – but it still needs to get even easier.

I have to admit that I’ve found it cool to have this project which started as a hobby for me now being taught in technical schools halfway across the world. Considering the extent of source control I was taught about in university was one assignment using SCCS, and that we only occasionally built using a makefile, students today have a huge advantage in getting started.

I’ve posted a few photos on flickr of the day:

 

Trip to the Philippines

I’ve just spent the better part of last week near Manila, and I have to say the stay was way too short. I really enjoyed myself there, and would have liked to stay on longer – I wish I’d taken the opportunity earlier. I’m not exactly sure what it was that endeared the place to me, but I felt very comfortable there.

Of course, the best thing is the people that I got to meet. I was in the country to meet the Mergere and Simula team at Exist Global, some of whom I’ve been working with for over a year and a half, and never had the opportunity to meet face to face. I already knew from working with them that they are friendly and helpful, but it was great to finally see that in person, and to discover what a close-knit group they are. Here is a photo of most of the team:


Left to Right: Dexter, Philip, Myself, Nap, Che, Lester, Jheng, Tin, Henry, Dawn, Mike, Deng, Teody, Glenn, Edwin, Franz

Unfortunately this week did see the last days for a couple of the Mergere team – Pete (not pictured), and Edwin. Good luck in your next adventures, guys!

The office there is good. It’s in a convenient location, at least for me being able to walk from the hotel (via the mega mall!). There’s a really nice view from the rooftop that I discovered on the last day where you can see quite a distance. And of course, just being in an air-conditioned office is a nice change from working from my home office/sauna since Sydney has similar temperatures and humidity to Manila at this time of year!

I got to try some new foods on the Friday – my first time eating a snail (which was surprisingly good), and Halo-halo which is a delicious desert.

I also went to Intramuros, the “walled city” in Manila. I’m fascinated by churches and history, so this was great place for me to visit. Absolutely beautiful. And proof that Starbucks is now pretty much everywhere. I’m always up for trying new things in new places – in addition to the new foods this was the first time I’d ridden in a horse-drawn carriage – and also the first time I’d ridden in a horse drawn carriage in major traffic. I have some photos to post, as soon as I can find a cable for my camera…

Anyway, I hope to return again soon, and my resolution for the next trip is definitely to get out of the hotel a lot more!

Updated: photos here