Akademy 2018 got off to a wet start with rains accompanying all attendees pouring into Vienna for KDE's largest annual community conference. Although the Pre-Registration event was held on Day Zero (Friday the 10th) and it was a fun-filled affair, Akademy kicked off in earnest on Saturday, with talks, panels and demonstrations. Read on to find out about Day 1 of Akademy and all that transpired:
Dan Bielefeld, the Technical Director of the Transitional Justice Working Group, explained the work they do to map North Korean locations of mass burial and execution sites using mapping technologies. He also delivered insight into how North Korea and the Kim regime operates, and how his organization gleans information both from interviews with refugees and from studying satellite imagery.
Although the topic of the suffering of North Koreans is grim, there is a silver lining, says Dan: One day there will be a transition, there will come a day when the Kim regime will end and North Koreans will regain the freedom that they have been denied for over 70 years. The work of the Transitional Justice Working Group will also help with that. Finding out what happened to loved ones and bringing those responsible for the atrocities to justice will be a crucial part of helping the nation heal.
And it makes sense, says Dan, for the Transitional Justice Working Group to work with both Free Software and Free Software communities. The software offers the group a degree of security and control they cannot find in closed source applications; and Free Software communities uphold the same values Dan's group is fighting for, that is, the right to privacy and personal freedom.
Quite appropriately, after Dan's keynote, Adriaan de Groot ran a panel where members discussed the matter of privacy. Developing privacy-respecting software is one of KDE's main goals and the panelists explained how developing free and open Personal Digital Assistants like Mycroft was crucial to protecting users from snooping corporations.
Another thing we rarely think about but is a source of concern with regard to personal information is trip planners. In actual fact, the amount of sensitive information that we unwittingly share by letting opaque apps tell us when and where to catch our flight is staggering. Since the 2017 Randa sprint, there are KDE developers actively working on a truly open and private solution that will help solve this problem.
The other thing the panel discussed was the state of GnuPG in Kmail. GnuPG is the framework that allows users to encrypt and decrypt email messages that, otherwise, would be sent in clear text -- a big privacy concern. At this stage of play, GnuPG is tightly integrated into Kmail and, is not only convenient for end users, but has also proved to be immune to recent vulnerabilities that have affected other email clients.
Combined with the underlying policy of all KDE apps of never collecting data subvertly or otherwise, KDE is sticking strictly to its goal of preserving user privacy.
Neofytos Kolokotronis talked about the progress of another of KDE's main goals, namely the onboarding of new users. Neofytos explained to attendees the progress the working group had made so far and where they wanted to go to. He had some advice on how to help new users join KDE, such as having good and clear documentation, mentoring new contributors, and building connections outside your immediate niche.
More Highlights from Day 1