A great day for multilingual chatting indeed! Kenneth Falck mentions that mIRC (the de-facto standard IRC client on Microsoft Windows) finally supports incoming UTF-8 encoded messages, starting with version 6.17. Khaled: how about outputting UTF-8 encoded messages too?
Two days ago, I attended the first occurrence of Open Tuesday, an Open Source event building upon the established First Tuesday concept: people from a given industry gather on the first Tuesday of every month for some informal chat and networking. The meeting usually starts with the company that sponsors that particular month's event presenting their latest business concept or product. For Open Tuesday, this means Finnish players in the FOSS industry.
I was particularly pleased with the wide variety of private and public sector representatives that attended this first event and found the exchange of ideas extremely stimulating. The fact that promising job leads also crept into some of the conversations obviously added to my satisfaction as well. Besides, several notorious developers like icon designer Tuomas Kuosmanen and Debian's very own Lars Wirzenius were also spotted among the crowd, which was very nice indeed. Anyhow, if you are working in the Finnish FOSS industry or if your FOSS business often takes you to Helsinki, you could hardly go wrong joining in on the fun. Definitely recommended!
Open Source 2006 is a one-day seminar that provides Free Software actors of Finland with a forum to present their work and the current trends in Free Software development to a greater audience comprised mainly of decision-makers from the business and governmental sectors.
Finnish Open Office localization team
This year, a noticeable trend were governmental cases of transition to Open Office and other Free Software solutions on the municipal desktop. Thus, it was only fitting that Finnish localization took greater importance than before and, in concordance, that this year's Linux-tekijä award went to the Finnish Open Office localization team. The jury invited 3 people from the localization team to receive the award on their team's behalf:
- Pastor Asmo Koskinen of the bilingual Finnish-Swedish parish of Kokkola; an active promoter of Open Office in the Finnish public sector that has given many training sessions on Open Office and helped countless end-users transition to Open Office.
- Translator Marko Grönroos; a leading Finnish localizer that is involved in the localization of an impressive number of Free Software products.
- Language Technology Expert Harri Pitkänen; the initiator of the Hunspell adaptation for the Finnish language.
Pastor Koskinen also gave a very stimulating lecture on the collaborative effort behind the localization, mentioning in passing that Czech Pavel Janik also plays an important role in building the Open Office binaries for a number of Baltic and Scandinavian languages.
Debian community of Finland
The jury also granted an honorary mention to the Debian community of Finland to acknowledge years of achievements, reaching an important milestone in 2005 when Finland hosted the yearly Debian Conference. Another motivation was a number of nominations for Ubuntu, both as a distribution and for its extremely active local user community. Given how a majority of Ubuntu developers actually are Debian Developers, the jury unanimously decided to honor them collectively from the perspective of Debian and its derivatives. The jury invited 3 people to receive the honorary mention on the community's behalf:
- Inquisitor Lars Wirzenius needs no introduction; an early adopter and promoter of Debian in Finland, his strong voice has eloquently sung the merits of Debian and Free Software to large audiences and persuaded a significant number of Finns to join the Debian project.
- Educator and Translator Tapio Lehtonen; appearing himself among this year's nominations for his extremely friendly attitude towards people making their first steps as a Free Software user, he is mainly known for localizing the Debian installation software.
- Event organizer Aschwin van der Woude (represented in absentee by co-organizer Fabian Fagerholm); personally initiated countless Free Software promoting events and developer workshops throughout Finland, culminating in 2005 with the important responsibility for Debconf5's budget and legal matters.
Lars gave the audience a very interesting perspective of his long involvement with Debian, while Tapio emphasized particular pride in seeing non-programmers that maintain documentation or localize software be acknowledged. Fabian gave a very emotional speech in which he praised the commendable efforts of dozens of volunteer DebConf5 organizers that discretely handled unpleasant tasks that were nonetheless essential to the success of the event.
Yours truly was invited to join the jury on behalf of Linux Aktivaattori, alongside representatives from the academic, business and Free Software communities. During the prize ceremony, FLUG chairman Arto Teräs and myself took turns at describing the award's selection process and at introducing the winners.