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Re: Hurd vs. Google Summer of Code 2010

From: olafBuddenhagen
Subject: Re: Hurd vs. Google Summer of Code 2010
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2010 05:12:47 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.19 (2009-01-05)


On Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 02:43:35PM +0100, Thomas Schwinge wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 08:02:30AM +0100, olafBuddenhagen@gmx.net
> wrote:

> > The results of my labour are available from
> > 
> >    http://www.bddebian.com/~hurd-web/community/gsoc/
> I did some enhancements (I hope) and pushed them.

Thanks for both the content enhancements, and for catching all those
typos... (And the rather embarrassing non-typos.)

I do have a couple of quibbles regarding some of the spelling changes

- "microkernel" is actually the standard spelling; and while
  "micro-kernel" is sometimes used too, "micro kernel" is very odd. I
  actively object to this change.

BTW, "userspace" is also pretty common, though "user space" is fine too.
And I don't think "harddisk" is really wrong either, even if "hard disk"
seems to be more common.

- "optimisation", "specialised", and "behaviour" are just as correct as
  the other spellings -- they are British English. (Admittedly, I'm not
  always consistent with BE vs. AE...)

> > Please take a look at the organisation application form,
> > 
> >    
> > http://www.bddebian.com/~hurd-web/community/gsoc/organization_application/
> I did some further changes: the guys evaluating all these many
> organizations' applications very likely don't want to read -- inside
> the oranization's description -- what the GPL is, for example.  Also I
> did more tidy up, to make the text shorter, while keeping (most of)
> the content.

Note that this text is *not* only for the sake of the Google reviewers;
it is also the initial text to show up on the organisation page if we
get accepted. While it is still possible to adjust that afterwards, I'm
not conviced it's a good idea to make major changes...

While the Google folks hopefully know by now what free software is about
(from our previous applications if nothing else...), this is definitely
not true for a major portion of the students who will be reading this

Having said that, I *did* consider making it shorter -- but in the end,
I couldn't decide which parts to strike out :-)

The part about freedom etc. is actually required to explain how the Hurd
goals directly follow from the GNU philosophy. While it's certainly
possible to explain the technical benefits without it, I tend to think
that we should try to introduce students interested in the project to
our philosophy as early as possible...

I don't really insist on this though.

As for the other changes, some are probably indeed an improvement; some
others I'm not so sure about... I'll comment on those I have serious
doubts about:

>  * Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2010? What do you 
> hope to gain by participating?
> -The primary goal of course is to find and introduce new long-term 
> contributors
> +The primary goal is to find and introduce new long-term contributors
>  to the project.

Mm... I put the "of course" there, because this is indeed officially the
main purpose of GSoC. I feel that when restating the odvious, we should
make it clear that we are doing that. But perhaps that's just me ;-)

> -Aside from that, it is a way to make progress with tasks that require an 
> amount of
> -focused work, that is hard to do for volunteers working in their spare time
> +We seek to make progress with tasks that require a distinct amount of focused
> +work, which is hard to fulfill by volunteers working in their spare time
>  only.

I agree that this section is quite awkward; but I'm not convinced about
your wording either...

Actually I consider dropping this section alltogether, or trying to
rewrite it. Experience has shown that even if the students are very
good, the work they do during the summer session alone doesn't generally
bring much benefit to the project, unless they stick around after the
summer and follow up on it. Thus I do not generally consider "getting
work done" a goal of our GSoC participation anymore.

It's true though that the mentor-student setup, together with the period
of intense work, *do* help with starting innovative new projects, which
do not generally happen otherwise. (I'm not even sure the "volunteer"
aspect is relevant in this at all.) I do not quite know how to properly
put this into words though :-(

>  In 2008 we participated as an organisation on our own for the first time. 
> This
> -turned out extremely beneficial: With the better visibility, we get a lot
> +turned out extremely beneficial: With the better visibility, we got a lot
>  more applications (more than 20), mostly of good or excellent quality.

Actually there is another mistake in this line: "with" should not be
capitalised :-)

BTW, I'm not entirely happy with this part of the sentence anyways:
while I think "visibility" hits it well, the rest of the wording around
it is a bit strange...

>  While the 2006 student disappeared midway, in all the later years all of our
> -students were successful -- including even one who worked on his project in
> -spite of not getting a slot. Half of them are regular Hurd contributors now.
> +students were successful -- including one who even worked on his project in
> +spite of not getting an official slot.  Half of them are regular Hurd
> +contributors now.

Hm... You are right that "including even" is strange; but I'm not sure
we should drop the "even" alltogether... Perhaps "even including"? Or
some entirely different wording to this effect.

>  2008: 4/4
>  (+1 inofficial in 2008)
> +
>  (under GNU umbrella: 2006: 0/1; 2007: 1/1; 2009: 1/1)

I'm actually very uncertain about this part. Aside from the main reply
box, in the form there is an extra "comment" box for this question.
Added with the strict instructions how to write down the counts, I
wonder whether this is intended to be machine-parsable... (Though I
wouldn't know why they would want to do that.)

I'm not sure whether it wouldn't be better to put the extra info in the
comment box only -- or maybe even leave it out alltogether.

>  We try to make it very clear that we expect the students to get into regular
> -contact with us before the end of the student selection process, and won't
> -consider their applications otherwise. This way we know that the students are
> +contact with us early during the student selection process already, and won't
> +consider their applications otherwise. This has proven beneficial in the 
> past;
> +it assures us that the students are
>  able and willing to communicate with us in the first place.

I guess the first change is fine; but I'm sceptical about the second
one... Why is it necessary?

I'm not even sure we can honestly claim that it has turned out
beneficial in the past. While the student being communicative is
obviously an important selection criterium, so far I didn't get the
impression that explicitely demanding it actually does any good. Some
students are communicative, and will contact us regardless; others are
reluctant to talk, and will remain so no matter how explicitely we ask
for it...

> -After selection, the regular contact is kept up: We require the
> +After selection, the regular contact is kept up: we require the
>  students to participate in IRC meetings up to twice a week, where we ask the 
> students
> -actively about the work they do, problems they face, decisions they take etc.
> -Furthermore, we ask them to hang out on IRC most of the time while
> -working on their projects, so we keep in close contact.
> +actively about the work they do, problems they face, decisions they take, 
> etc.
> +Furthermore, we suggest they are available on IRC while working on their
> +projects, so we can stay in close contact.

This is indeed an improvement for the most part; except for the
"suggest": it's more than a suggestion on my part. (Though for some
reason the students generally do not seem to treat it as anything else
-- not sure what I'm doing wrong :-( )

> I pushed these changes to the flubber repository,
> tschwinge/gsoc branch.  I plan to merge that into master in a day or two,
> unless someone (Olaf) objects.

As time is pressing, I guess that's fine in this case; but in general,
"a day or two" is too short notice for me... I often don't read mails
for several days in a row.

> > Also, we need a backup organisation administrator. Any takers?
> Me.  Unless someone objects, I'll add my link ID to the page.

Please do :-)

I was somewhat unsure, as you were a bit silent over the past couple of
days -- I thought that if you are so busy, perhaps it would be better
for someone else to take over. But if you feel up to it, all the better


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