The MassCUE conference is tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. You do not have to be a fan of the Patriots to get in, but it doesn’t hurt, of course.

I will be working the MassCUE information desk during the event. Drop by to say hello.

I am glad I’m not an accountant or bookkeeper. Details can’t slip your mind. Every transaction, in or out, needs an accurate record.


Image Credit: juliocesarf (

Keeping the books is important to many of the non-profit organizations I support.  MassCUE, for example, is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 organization. All the money that passes through is tax exempt. That does mean that the organization has to pay attention to the financial details.

A free software accounting package that served the needs of NPOs is a worthy cause.

The Software Freedom Conservancy (itself an NPO) has started a campaign to fund the first year of development for a free software (AKA “open source”) accounting package.


I read about the effort here:

I read some more at the campaign itself:

This sounds like a good cause for readers of the MOSS SIG blog.

Will you consider a donation?

The meeting information has gone to MassCUE to be included in the December Calendar mailing.

Moving to Open Source Software in Schools (MOSS SIG)
Date: Monday, December 14, 2009
Time: 9:00 A.M.
Location: Fowler Middle School, 3 Tiger Drive, Maynard, MA
Check in at the main office as a visitor. There will be signs posted to the room where the meeting will be held.

MapQuest: (shortened with

This meeting is intended to be a “roadmap” meeting, trying to get a clear picture of the steps that the SIG can take to make itself useful to schools, technology coordinators, and teachers and ultimately improve students’ access to open source tools which will improve their chances to succeed.

In addition, we want to provide access for those who cannot be physically present. We are working on the details this coming week. Look for more information in a later blog post.

This blog represents a special interest group of MassCUE, and the organization likes to keep Special Interest Groups involved in a face-to-face way.

Therefore, with the offer from Jon Green in hand, MOSS SIG is organizing a meeting to be held at Jon’s district in Maynard, MA.

Please use a comment here to give a preference for which of three days. Or, even better, jump over to the SIGs forum on Google Groups and give your comment there. The Google Group actually enhances the interactivity of the SIG. There are more details about the voting process below. READ ON>

Jon and I hope we can come to a comfortable consensus with you on the
list to schedule a SIG meeting soon. The goal of the meeting is to get
familiar with each other. Giving a “face” to the members of the group
and to establish a roadmap of the goals the group should seek to
accomplish. If you have suggestions for things to consider, include them
in your reply even if you cannot attend the meeting.

We can even figure out remote access options for those who can spare the
time, but cannot make the trip.

Working from Jon’s schedule (hosting gets perks) we’d like you to react
to the following three dates for a meeting at 9:00AM.

Friday December 11
Monday December 14
Friday December 18

Please list them in order of preference in a reply post. If you cannot
make any of the days, list only the ones you can.

For example: 14, 11, 18 Which would say “I can make any of the dates,
but for me, the order of preference is the 14th followed by the 11th and
18th.” Another person might reply, 11, 18 showing only two dates saying,
“I can make either of the two Fridays, but not Monday the 11th.”

Directions are available on the Maynard schools Web page: and, you can create maps
and directions through sites like Google Maps and Mapquest.

Please pass the invitation along to your tech coordinator and others in
your district that might be interested whether or not you can attend.
MassCUE SIG meetings are open to all who have an interest. Membership in
MassCUE is not a requirement to attend.

Jon and I look forward to hearing from all of you.

The MassCUE Conference for 2009 is over. Some part of me wishes it were still going on, but then sanity kicks in and I am glad the three days have passed. I look forward to the ghouls, goblins, ghosts and superheros who will visit in costume tonight for Halloween.

I’m dressing as Norm Abram, master woodworker, plaid shirt, toolbelt and all. I won’t be alone. Popular Woodworking has encouraged it. (Thanks for all the years of New Yankee Workshop, Norm!)

Gillette gave us a great venue. The conference was full; 1300+ over two days got to see speakers, keynotes, demos, vendors and the Patriots practicing on the field both days!

Several of you came by the registration table where my volunteer assignment put me (and I enjoyed immensely). It was great to see you and I was glad to be able to speak with several of you.

Share your tales of the sessions here because nobody could get to all of them. I sneaked away from the registration table long enough to attend the session on Scratch given by Mitchel Resnick of MIT.

Programming as a creative activity has been around since BASIC hooked me in on my TRS-80 back in the 1970s, and LOGO was great for kids, too. Scratch is another step in the right direction because it abstracts the tedium of typing correct programming syntax and lets a student concentrate on the creative structure instead. Scratch is very visual and embeds the programming effort in an effective envelope that allows a person to imagine, create, test, share and rework. The on line storage at the Scratch servers makes projects by others into tools for exploration and development. If your posted project inspires another user to experiment on your work, the result automatically shows the development sequence, giving credit to each contributor, your original work and that of your collaborator.

As a result, a community of effort can develop around a project with several people making contributions to create projects that have input from many, even when the contributors are scattered around the globe. Scratch may be to students and schools what open source is to professional programmers. Time will tell, but Scratch may be a path that leads young people into the culture and community of sharing/collaborating and and contributing. It could help to produce the next generation of open source programmers.

Scratch is available for download from and is available for both Windows PC and Macintosh. A Linux version is in beta and can be downloaded for Debian/Ubuntu systems.

MOSSSIG is a special interest group of MassCUE. Next Wednesday and Thursday are going to be fun. This year’s conference [you can download a copy of the session schedule] is at Gillette Stadium where the Patriots football team play their home games. There are conference rooms that are a part of Patriots Place, which is best known for the new retail shops and CBS Scene.

If you have registered to attend, I hope you will look for me at the registration area or CUE Central. I would love to get the chance to talk to you. Unfortunately, if you have not registered, it is too late. The conference is a big success, full for both days. I cannot recommend attempting to show up for a walk in registration, either.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Superintendents (M.A.S.S.) and that, along with the new location may explain the crowd. Superintendents control who gets to go to conferences in Massachusetts. Perhaps co-sponsoring gave the “go ahead” to sending more this year than ever before.

Open Source has some sessions, too.

Google Docs/Netbooks/Moodle
Using Moodle to Build PLCs
Free Tech Tools in the Math Classroom (Scratch)
Moodle in the Elementary Classroom
Software that Costs Little and Gives a Lot!
Thinking Creatively with Scratch
Outside the Box with Moodle!
Open Source Opportunities
MITs Imagination Toolbox
Moodle, STEM, 21st Century Skills and Local Leadership

Of course there are many other sessions to attend, too. Good luck making your choices.

Jono Bacon is a long time Linux activist from the United Kingdom and currently works for Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. He is their community manager.

He has written a book about communities in the context of groups that share common goals like support for or development of open source software. The book has been recently published, and is currently on my to-be-read bookshelf (one sadly sagging from the weight of volumes there). However, Mr. Bacon has taken the extra step of getting his publisher to agree to an unusual thing. The book is also available for free.

Even if you are not a part of the writing or support of open source software, you may be reading this blog because you are part of the education community. You may also be part of the group MassCUE, for which this blog represents a special interest group. MassCUE is Massachusetts Computer Using Educators with a strong community.

Since you don’t have to pay for the book, you can certainly afford to read it. Go to it!

FOSS for Teachers presentation tomorrow. It is the second in the “road show” series of presentations for MOSSSIG which is a special interest group of the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators, Inc.

Southeastern Massachusetts SIG (SEMSIG)
March 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM
H.A. Yelle Elementary School, 64 W. Main Street, Norton, MA

Host: Lynn Wiegel, contact if you plan to attend [lwiegel AT NOSPAM] (translate the address, humans!)

From North:
Take 95 South to 495 South. Take exit 12 onto Rt. 140 Norton. Follow 140 to the lights at Rt. 123. Take a right onto Rt. 123. The H.A. Yelle Elementary School is on the left. Park in the circle in front of the building and enter via the front door.

From South:
Take 95 Norton to 495 South. Take exit 12 onto Rt. 140 Norton. Follow 140 to the lights at Rt. 123. Take a right onto Rt. 123. The H.A. Yelle Elementary School is on the left. Park in the circle in front of the building and enter via the front door.

Hope I’ll see you there!

Tuesday afternoon, January 13, 2009 at 4:00 the Technology Integration in Education SIG will have a meeting at the Burlington Public Library, 22 Sears Street, Burlington.

The topic is open source software in subject areas. I (Algot Runeman) will be at the meeting to provide whatever support I can. There will be free Ubuntu 8.10 CDs, Open Disk Project’s Education disk (Windows), and more.

If you are in the area, I bet everyone would be glad to see you there, too. I know I would be ecstatic.

Look here for a post about the meeting with a list of any software we discuss.

What a wonderful, energetic, enthusiastic crowd attended the MassCUE conference this year. At times it was really hectic at the CUE Central booth where MOSSSIG shared the booth with the Door Prize Drawings. Thanks to the many volunteers who took part in planning, organizing and executing the conference this year. Many people had glowing comments to make about it.

Bumper Sticker for Open Source Software

Bumper Sticker for Open Source Software

MOSSSIG gave away bumper stickers, Ubuntu 8.10 CDs, and attracted a crowd. 25 people took the time to leave their names and email contact information. I have sent out a confirmation email to each of them, and look forward to keeping in touch, especially to answer individual questions you left on the sign-up sheet. NOTE! If your email didn’t get to you, leave a comment here, or send me an email to correct my transcription of your information.

If you didn’t get a bumper sticker, I have extras. Send me an email.

Remember, if you leave a comment, it makes the blog much richer for others who visit. If you share what you know, you are taking an active role in the open source movement, and if you leave a question to be answered, it will make the blog a better place, too. Always remember the teaching adage, “If you don’t ask a question, you won’t get an answer.”

I look forward to keeping in touch with you in the coming days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries (we all expect to live forever, don’t we?)

Special thanks to Martin Owens of the Massachusetts Ubuntu Team for providing the Ubuntu CDs and other support materials.


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