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I love Free Software: OsmAnd

Today, like every year on Valentine’s Day, the FSFE is running its “I love Free Software” campaign: a day to show and celebrate your love for Free Software. That is why I take my chance today to thank the developers of OsmAnd for all the work they are doing!

Last year in summer, I was doing a bicycle trip for some days through the northern part of Germany, especially through the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte and along the Baltic Sea. Generally, when I am on bicycle trips, I prefer to cycle aside from roads and motorways but along the paths, the hiking trails or even dirt tracks. That was exactly the time, when I fell in love with OsmAnd, a maps & navigation application for Android systems.

This is not just because it gives me the ability to use Free Software with really good maps for navigation. This is especially because you can download any maps of the world (as long as you have enough space to save them) whenever you like (While you are on Wifi, e.g.) and use it afterwards completely offline. For example, when you go to some foreign country, you can download the entire map of this country before and then enjoy a complete maps&navigation system without the need of having internet access or having to pay any roaming charges for internet access. Or, like in my case, when you cycle long distances through landscape (where you miss power plugs as well as network connectivity most of the time) you can stay in flight-mode all the time and keep on cycling with navigation for days. In addition, the maps are really good and detailed and you can see even tiny hiking trails to follow. You can also set your own favorite points on the map, without having to fear that these favorite points will be send to or tracked by any server – as you are using it offline.

Last, but not least, you can download OsmAnd from F-droid, the Free Software App Repository, so you can use all OsmAnd features on an Android based operating system without the need of any Google account.

In short: Dear OsmAnd developers, thank you very much for this useful app. Keep the good work going, I love you guys!

FOSDEM 2014 – FSFE, Fellowship and speaking schedule

Just three days left until FOSDEM 2014. For every Fellow and friend of FSFE who is attending, here is some useful information:

As every year, the FSFE has a booth that you will find in building K. This is a good chance to meet other Fellows and staff of the FSFE and to have a chat with each other.

On Saturday afternoon, at 16 hours, there is a general Fellowship meeting in front of the cafeteria in between the main building and building K. Erik will tell you about the European Elections project 2014 and how you can participate. In addition, this is again a good chance to get to know Fellows from all over Europe and discuss various topics.

On Saturday night, starting from 8pm, there is a FSFE social event in a small bar in the center of Brussels. Feel free to join and enjoy an evening together. The address:

Au Vieux Port
21 Quai au Bois a Bruler
1000 Bruxelles

Also, be aware, that many Fellows will speak during FOSDEM. Here are the Fellows that give a presentation during FOSDEM and I am aware of:
(chronological order)

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Report des Berliner FSFE Treffen am 9.Januar 2014

Kai und Luca sind noch neue Mitglieder in unserer monatlichen Fellowship-Runde, haben beim letzten Treffen aber gleich ihren Einstand gegeben: Luca mit einem Bericht von der Mobilize!-Konferenz “Whatever Happened Privacy” und Kai mit einer Übersicht über alternative Suchmaschinen. Leider war der Autor selbst krank, deshalb kann ich nur wiedergeben, was mir als Zusammenfassung zugespielt wurde. Vielen Dank dafür, wäre gerne da gewesen:

Whatever happened to privacy?

Luca legte in seiner Zusammenfassung den Fokus auf die Themen Verletzung der Privatsphäre, Demokratie und Widerstand. Dankenswerterweise stellt er die Folien seines Vortrags auf seiner Fellowship-Seite zur Verfügung.

Google-Websuche – Welche Alternativen haben wir?

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Report des Berliner FSFE Treffen am 12.12.13

Letzten Donnerstag, 12.12.13, hat sich die Berliner Fellowship Gruppe wieder einmal in der E-Lok zum monatlichen Fellowship-Meeting getroffen. Dieses Mal hatten wir das Thema “Online-Inhalte speichern um sie später Offline zu lesen”. Skills, die man auch 2013 leider immer noch oft benötigt: Wie macht man das eigentlich, wenn man einen ganz tollen Artikel findet, aber in dem Moment aber einfach keine Zeit hat? Oder man hat nur 5 Minuten Zeit, bevor man wieder 2h Offline ist … wie macht man das am Computer und wie am Telefon / Tablet?

Eines gleich vorweg: Besonders schön war zu sehen, dass uns dieses Thema ganz neue Besucher angeschwemmt hat und wir dadurch nicht nur eine große Gruppe waren sondern auch den bisher höchsten Frauenanteil eines Meetings hatten – ich hoffe auf Wiederholung.

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Report des Berliner FSFE Treffen am 14.11.2013

Heute ein Gastbeitrag von Silvan, der mit mir zusammen die Fellowship-Gruppe Berlin organisiert. Vielen Dank!

Am 14.November veranstaltete die Berliner Fellowship-Gruppe ein erstes Treffen nach neuem Konzept. Die Grundidee dahinter ist künftig auf jedem Meeting drei stets wiederkehrende Blöcke zu gestalten:

  1. eine 15-minütige Zusammenfassung der FSFE-Aktivitäten des letzten Monats durch einen Mitarbeiter aus dem Berliner Büro
  2. ein einstündiges Thema das montalich wechselt. Eventuell eingeleitet mit einem kurzem Vortrag und anschließend moderiert von jeweils einem “owner” aus der Berliner Fellowship-Gruppe
  3. ein 15-minütiger Meta-Block mit Feedback sowie Planungen für das Thema und den owner des nächsten Meetings und weitere Aktivitäten.

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FSFE First European Coordinators Meeting

Ten days ago, on September 27 to 29, FSFE held its first European Coordinators Meeting (#ECM) in Berlin. Therefore, the FSFE invited Fellowship Coordinators from all over Europe to come for a weekend to exchange knowledge and visions between FSFE staff and the Fellowship. In total, we have been 22 people from 10 different countries which served as a good base for a lot of input. As the main organiser of the weekend, I would like to give you a report and feedback of the weekend.

Group Picture of FSFE's first European Coordinators Meeting

On Friday evening, all attendees were gathering inside FSFE’s new office in Berlin for a warm-up meeting. As the office is pretty small, shortly the room became very crowded with so many people. On the other hand, this was a good way to directly get in first contact with most people, as everybody was just standing next to each other. And, standing in the office, was also a good chance for everyone to directly grab FSFE’s promotion material.

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About ownership, remote control and privacy

Recently, I made a blogpost about the ownership of your own device and how control of technology is directly linked with the freedom of society – as well as with the freedom of each individual. The argument made in that post was, that remote control of technology in the hands of manufacturers put users out of their own control and makes censorship, supervision and control of society more and more easy and – therefore – likely to happen. Image of a router that looks like a camera

Just some weeks later, Edward Snowden leaked documents that show how the NSA was granted access to users data from US internet giants like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and many more. These documents show that remote storage of private data puts users out of control of their privacy. As we will see, the worst still is to come: remote private data storage by a machine that is under remote control.

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Digital and physical restrictions on your own device

Ownership of content and devices

About digital restrictions

Today, May 3rd 2013, is the international day against Digital Restrictions Management, powered by the Free Software Foundation. Usually, the term Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) refers to various restrictions that companies – or any other content provider – impose on digital media and data. These restrictions are there to let providers decide what you can do with your media and data and what not. By this, they keep you out of having true ownership of your data. This data is defective by design – no matter how much money you maybe paid for it. And it brings us into a world where we do not longer “buy” anything but only “license” the use of it. Restrictions like these evolve, just until one day when a licenser may legally decide to suddenly delete everything you have bought – remotely!

This year’s day against DRM focusses on a new and global threat to everything we are used to know about the World Wide Web: the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is discussing an Encrypted Media Extensions proposal (EME), that aims at incorporating support for DRM into HTML5. HTML is in the very heart of the Internet. Establishing DRM into HTML might become a terrific threat to the freedom of the Internet, to Free Software browsers and users freedom in general.
I hope, many people around the world join FSF and FSFE or align with other organisations in their fight against DRM in HTML5. Please, sign the petition and ring the bells as loud as you can to make other people aware of this misleading development.

Now, I would like to use this day to shed light on another issue. Something, that DRM not necessarily relates to, but, is indeed related to it: ownership of your own device.

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Gesucht: Nutzer, denen die Gewährleistung eines gerooteten Gerätes versagt wurde

Die Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VZBV) – ein vom Bundesministerium für Verbraucherschutz geförderter Verein – hat auf ihrem Portal Surfer haben Rechte das Thema Rooting vs Gewährleistung aufgegriffen. Speziell geht es in diesem Beitrag um das sogenannte ‘rooting’ von Android-Smartphones. Darunter versteht man den vollen Zugriff auf das eigene Mobilgerät um Daten und Programme nach Belieben zu installieren – beispielsweise auch alternative Betriebssysteme. Die meisten Hersteller gewähren ihren Nutzern dieses Recht auf eigene Gerätehoheit allerdings nicht. Die Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband stellt dazu fest:

Rechtsexperten sind sich einig, dass das Rooting zu privaten Zwecken zwar strafrechtlich unbedenklich, allerdings vertragsrechtlich höchst umstritten ist. Denn viele Hersteller akzeptieren in der Praxis keinerlei gesetzliche Gewährleistungsansprüche mehr, wenn das Gerät gerootet wurde. Dabei ist es unerheblich, wann der Schaden eingetreten bzw. worauf er zurück zu führen ist.

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#ilovefs everywhere

Today is the day to show your love for Free Software. Here is my message:

I love Free Software because it is in the very heart of a 21st century society that respects the rules of privacy, autonomy, democracy, participation and the freedom of speech.

(Just to list a few of its countless good characteristics)

I would love to see this message going out to the people that decide on our daily lives, our legal and educational framework. By promoting and using Free Software, they have the chance to set up the roots for a truly interconnected and transnational society. Hence, my message today is addressed to all of you in the European Parliament:

European Parliament celebrating #IloveFS

Description: The European Parliament celebrating and promoting Free Software – for a Free Society. Licensed under CC 3.0 BY-SA