In about 36hrs from now, the first POSSE (Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience) in Africa will commence at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I am excited to be part of it and am looking forward to a lifetime experience. The is an introductory blog post, hence the title “Pre-POSSE SA.” The post is arranged as follows. Section I presents how the desire to run POSSE in Africa all started. Section II discusses the POSSE SA instructors, and Section III wraps up the post.
Section I – The Journey into POSSE SA
The story won’t be complete without mentioning names and organizations. Way back 2007, I was googling for how to hack a browser, when I came across the name David Humphrey, a professor at Seneca College, York Campus, Canada. I saw that he was teaching his students how to hack the Mozilla codebase. I also wanted to hack the codebase to show a proof of concept in my research. So, I mailed him, and we had some correspondence on how I could accomplish the task. In the process, I noticed that his centre, CDOT, was inviting Mozilla developers to come and teach his students how to hack the codebase. In addition, the centre was running a course and a one-week workshop on hacking the codebase every year for awhile. I remember getting in touch with them (David, Chris and Evan) if I could participate in one of the workshops. To keep the long story short, I did successfully hack the codebase, developed an extension and published a number of papers with David. I achieved all without travelling but researching day and night.
The other part of the story is that I eventually met with David, Chris and Evan last October at the Teaching Open Source Summit (TOSS ’09) and the Free Software and Open Source Symposium (FSOSS ’09) in Canada. And that was when I met Mel Chua. Many thanks to Mozilla (and Mark Surman) for their kind support. It was all a warm reception; I did a presentation at FOSS [1, 2] and really enjoyed my participation in TOSS ’09. Before I left South Africa for Canada, I had learnt about POSSE. I discussed it with Greg DeKoenigsberg and Mel that we would love to host it in Africa (most likely, South Africa) the following year (2010). And that’s what we are now doing.
Section II – POSSE SA Instructors
We are looking forward to three instructions, who will be arriving Cape Town in the next 24hrs. They are Mel Chua, Jan Wildeboer and Pierros Papadeas. Interestingly, none of them have meet one another before, as Mel told me. We have all introduced ourselves on the mailing list, and I am looking forward to meeting them. Mel has already given us some tasks (notes to read before the Monday class), and I just read a mail from Jan giving us his cellphone number and asking us to reach him in case he is lost (lol!!). Pierros also blogs at every wi-fi hotspot he reaches. Fellow participants have also started opening the required accounts – web blog and fedora project accounts – for the workshop.
Section III – Conclusions
I am glad that POSSE is starting on Monday. I wish the instructors journey mercies; they are all in different flights to Cape Town at present. Awesome!! We have got participants from most of the institutions in the Western Cape of South Africa, namely UCT, UWC and CPUT, the host. We are also expecting visitors from Open Source Communities, who will be joining us at the dinner, and we do expect some other visitors to stop by during the workshop. We do hope to have a great time, and I will be blogging every bit of the experience. Stay tuned!!