“What I learned in boating school is…”

It’s been about two months since I was first introduced to the open source project, MouseTrap. In that time, I’ve been thrown into the world of Free Open Source Software, FOSS, and I’ve been given a little insight into just how it works. In our class, we’ve had traditional lectures but our learning goes beyond that. We’ve not only communicated with big contributors in to FOSS community, but we’ve also had the opportunity to work alongside of them even if for a brief time.

In our class, we’ve mainly focused on the actual software engineering side of the coin which entails the documentation that kick starts a project. This part of it has felt exactly like a “regular class” where we go over different documentation techniques and then apply what was learned to the project at hand; in our case, MouseTrap.

What is different, though, is that we are constantly connected with the community. We’re almost always connected to the community via irc, at least in class. We also had the opportunity to go to the GNOME Developer Conference and not only listen in on what exactly these developers were working on but we also had the opportunity to ask them questions related to our project and some even took time out to sit down with us to help. For these reasons, learning in a FOSS project feels a lot more hands on than classes we’ve taken before which have relied more on theory. I’m soon going to be jumping into the professional world and what working with FOSS has taught me is that communication is vital to any project. Most of these people have never met in real life or even live in the same country but they’ve been brought together by the same project with their goal of providing a complete product for anyone to use and I think that’s just fantastic.

In short, I’ve enjoyed this style of learning. It not only allows us to stick to the professional side, with the documentation, but it also allows us to delve into the meat and potatoes of it all which is the code. The members of FOSS that I’ve met on my journey thus far have been incredibly helpful and patient as I and the rest of the class settle into our new environment. Their drive makes me really want to stick with FOSS after this class just so that I can one day emulate their work and hopefully spread FOSS further.


Here we go!


Welcome to the inaugural post for my blog, Outside Scope. This blog has been created to be updated in tandem as I work on the open source project, MouseTrap. I’ve always wanted to work on an open source project but it all seemed so daunting to me that I never worked up the motivation to actually get started. I’m hoping that working on MouseTrap will light the fire under me so that I can begin contributing to other OSS even after my class is over.

What is MouseTrap? MouseTrap is an application made for Linux that uses a webcam to track the head movements of the user; it uses the head movements to control the cursor on screen to help those that are physically unable to use a mouse. MouseTrap is software that desperately needs to get working. There are people out there that will heavily benefit from software like MouseTrap and unfortunately, it’s not ready for them. My main goal is to try to help this project along nearer to its completion. I know that I can’t make the biggest contributions but I plan to make each count either way.