Old and new, big Italian engineering

Steam turbine being delivered from Firenze
Steam turbine being delivered from Firenze

My brother sent me this image of a steam turbine shipped from GE plant in Firenze (aka Nuovo Pignone) to a customer. It’s so cool to see massive, modern, mechanic equipment being shipped around the world with Brunelleschi’s masterpiece of Italian engineering in the background.

The quest to sustainable development of free software

A few articles on the topic of how to sustain development of free/libre software caught my attention lately:

It’s a hard problem, especially when you compare the revenues of a Red Hat selling “free as in freedom” software with the insane amount of money that can be made developing software that enslaves and sells users to advertisers. On the other hand, I know of a good amount of people making a living (and saving for the rainy days) while respecting users freedoms.

Tracking gender diversity in the OpenStack developer community

The OpenStack Foundation has always tried to increase genders diversity in our community: we joined the Outreach Program for Women, established clear policies for our summits and in general we’ve been actively promoting good behavior across the board. A few weeks ago I realized that we were lacking of a decent way to track our progress inĀ gender diversity in the OpenStack developer community and decided to improve the situation.

When Anne asked me for the number of women or non-male developers in OpenStack, I realized that we don’t have that number. When people register to become OpenStack developers they need to become members of OpenStack Foundation and have an account on Launchpad. Neither of them track gender information. The best number I had to offer was the t-shirt kind requested at our Summits. If you don’t measure it you can’t improve it, the saying goes. So we thought we need to offer the option for Foundation’s members to tell us their gender, if they want to. How do we ask for gender without being disrepectful to non-binary genders?

We did some research, discussed them on the bug and adapted the best practices to our case. We wanted to keep the choice short and not to offend anybody by leaving out options. An open entry form leads to hard to use data (people have very creative ways to spell just about anything), using pronouns would have made translations a nightmare. We need a way to restrict options so we can easily count them in the database so the binary options male/female were set first and ‘Prefer not to say’ was soon added as another option, since it’s really not mandatory to disclose that information. For non-binary genders using “Non-binary” sounded too geeky to me; using ‘other’ sounds weird, borderline offensive. We came to a consensus on my suggestion to have an open entry prefixed by “Let me tell you”. I liked this phrase because I feel like “Let me tell you” empowers the member to own their own gender definition. The new form is now live so you can now register or edit your OpenStack Member profile and add your gender (if you want to).