24 May 2011

User Experience Survey

Note: this is not about the Advertising team survey, which has a very different focus but was inspirational.

When your interaction with other Ubuntu users is entirely made up of developers talking about bugs they need to fix and users seeking support (IRC, forums, bug reports), your perspective changes. It's hard to get a good idea of the big picture. What portion of users are hitting problems in what areas? How do users who've reported bugs feel about the experience? How are the local community teams doing? That kind of stuff is hard to wrap your head around without metrics. Sometimes people get the impression Ubuntu Developers don't care what users think, but it's actually really hard to get a balanced view of things with just bug reports or to tell whether an upset group is a vocal minority or a vocal majority. And unfortunately, massive-scale mind-reading has not yet been perfected.

To that end, I've worked with a bunch of other members of the Ubuntu community (Alan Bell, Lyz Krumbach, Valorie Zimmerman, Joseph Price, and others) to create a survey that'll help those of us working on various parts of Ubuntu understand where we need to improve and how we can do better.

If you have an opinion on Ubuntu, please take 5 minutes to fill out the Ubuntu User-Experience survey.

I would like to repeat the survey in other languages as well, but I don't know any other languages fluently enough. If you would like to translate the survey into your language, email me translations at: maco [DOT] m [AT] ubuntu [DOT] com -- I suggest sending it as an attachment with a message like "here are the translations for $language" so GMail doesn't go "non-English text! Must be spam!"

PS: go here for translations and eventual results

20 May 2011

Why I'm not speaking

I decided not to submit to the CFP for any LnuxFests this year. Bethlynn from Ohio LinuxFest was surprised to not see me on Southeast LinuxFest's speaker list and asked why. I told her I didn't submit anything to SELF and would not be submitting to OLF either. I'm not doing public speaking this year.

On the one hand, I'm taking a break. Coming up with new topics that I feel comfortable with is hard. Plus, I know I end up working on slides the night before and therefore missing out on the Friday night party.

On the other hand, I've spoken three times at Ohio and once at Southeast now. LinuxFests are a great environment for new speakers to get their first experience speaking in front of a few hundred people. It would get boring to end up with an "old guard" taking up a chunk of the speaking slots every year. I wanted to step back and make way for some new blood. I don't have a list of everyone who's spoken at Ohio LinuxFest and what years they did that (though that might be interesting), but I do have a list of all the women who spoke at OLF. Catherine Devlin, Dru Lavigne, and I all spoke at OLF the last two years. Dru was at SELF last year and will be speaking there again this year. I'm sure if I had a list of all the men who'd spoken there, I'd find a similar group who'd spoken repeatedly at the Eastern-US fests.

I'd really like to see some new faces applying to speak at these fests. Ohio extended their call for proposals to 1 June, so if you think you've got something to say, please submit a proposal. If you know someone who doesn't yet know they have something to say, please inform them and get them to submit a proposal. The first time I spoke at OLF I was insistent that I couldn't possibly have anything to talk about that everyone there didn't already know better. Remember: everyone is someone else's guru.

01 May 2011

Blogging Against Disablism Day - ASL

Penelope Stowe of the Ubuntu Accessibility Team told me about Blogging Against Disablism Day. Disablism and ableism have the same meaning and are more regional than anything else. They refer to the underlying assumptions about what "everyone" can do. I live not far from Gallaudet University, the only accredited liberal arts university for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, so I actually come across people signing with some frequency.

When I first started signing, the friend who was teaching me (whom I met through the LoCo even!) would simcomm, and I learned from that. Now she usually doesn't speak at all when I'm around. She can safely assume I'll get enough context clues to learn whatever signs she uses that I didn't already know. I'm really happy about having achieved that level of fluency.

Last year, I used simcomm to give my presentation at Ohio LinuxFest. Mel Chua (Red Hat) and Bryen Yunashko (openSUSE) were both there. One is Hard of Hearing; the other is Deaf. I used a lot of ASL that weekend, not just for my own communication, but also as an interpreter for those giving directions. A few other hearing people even came up to me and started signing, since they saw me signing with Mel.

Maybe some day I'll be a certified interpreter. Right now, I can interpret in a pinch, but it's not pretty and doesn't have very good grammar. The trouble with simcomming so much is I have very little practice with using ASL-word-order. I intend to take an actual class to try to fix that.

I'm happy to see OLF has welcomed requests for assistance from disabled* attendees and speakers. I suspect I don't see many Hard of Hearing or Deaf people at conferences because they can usually safely assume there will be no accommodations, meanwhile there are no accommodations because organisers can usually safely assume there will be no HoH/Deaf people.

I don't know much about technological accessibility for those with hearing impairments. I do know Mel has complained that she has no way of knowing her system bell is on until her coworkers get upset at how loud it is. I know another friend complained that media players often now have the volume capped so that they are less likely to induce hearing loss but are unusable if you already have hearing loss. A Cowon D2 turned out to be loud enough for her to hear. I know videos without captions or podcasts without transcripts are a problem. I don't know what else though.

* Vocab note: A person has an impairment. Society's treatment of that impairment is what disables the person.

27 April 2011

Key transition

I started a key transition around DebConf last year upgrading from my 1024-bit GPG key I've had about as long as I've had this blog.  At the time, Debian's requirements for new maintainers was 2048 bits, so that's what I used.  It's now 4096 bits.  I learned this as I was preparing to send an email to newmaint asking to become a DM.  So that's a bit of a waste.  I have signatures on both the old ones, so below I will include a blurb signed by each of the old keys in case one of the previous signers is willing to take that as proof enough to sign the new one. Yes, the new key is signed by both of the old ones.

  1. Old keyID: BC8D3269 - blurb signed by old key
  2. Old new keyID: 340950E8 - blurb signed by old new key
  3. New new keyID: 36535A82 - blurb signed by new key

I'll be revoking the old 1024-bit key by my birthday (1 September). The 2048 one will probably stick around at least until after the next thing I go to with lots of Debian & Ubuntu folks, to allow the new one time to get more signatures, since I hear weakening your spot in the web of trust is a bad thing.