#SidnetDonations: Sebastian for Asahi Linux and the Korabiewice Animal Shelter

2020 has taught us not to grow attached to New Year’s resolutions. A real change requires not only consistency but also flexibility. The open-source and charitable projects that we are supporting in these early days of 2021 form good examples of this approach.

This time it was Sebastian Stasiak making the selection, the Sales Director and coordinator of web development projects and corporate IT solutions. A dedicated Apple fan who is even able to squeeze his interest in #SidnetDonations for open-source projects 😉

Asahi Linux

A project currently being launched that will result in the distribution of Linux for Mac computers with Apple Silicon. Behind the initiative is Hector Martin, an enthusiast who, as he describes himself, “likes putting Linux on things”. So far he has created versions of Linux operating on the PS4, PS3 Slim and Nintendo Wii consoles, for example.

Creating Linux distribution on the M1 Mac Mini is a full-time job for Martin. The manufacturer does not provide documentation for Apple Silicon solutions, so it is necessary to test closed-source software through reverse engineering.

“Apple is not associated with open source, but there are programmers who appreciate the quality of Mac hardware. I respect the determination of a developer who tries to reconcile fire and water,” comments Sebastian.

The costs of work on the project are to be covered by ongoing fundraising. Martin has already reached the threshold necessary for the project to start. Each subsequent donation will help speed up the development of the software and ensure its further growth.

Korabiewice Animal Shelter

A shelter for dogs, cats and farm animals, including horses, cows, pigs and sheep. Before being taken over by the Viva! Foundation, the shelter was a place of dramatic scenes as publicized by TVN UWAGA! reporting. Since 2012 the homeless animals have been looked after by devoted volunteers (50-70 people every week!) and vets. Thanks to the foundation, a range of necessary adoption programs (physical, virtual and temporary) and animal sterilizations have been launched.

This is already the third donation made to the Korabiewice Animal Shelter by this former volunteer:

“I am attached to this place. This coming year I would like to adopt one of the shelter’s charges,says our Sales Director.

Those who have not yet managed to organize themselves in the new year might appreciate a wall calendar featuring animals from the shelter. The funds from the calendar sales will be used to build a cat shelter.

#SidnetDonations: Michał for The Tor Project & Amnesty International Poland

All I want for Christmas is… fundamental human rights. Following the celebration of International Human Rights Day, we are offering financial support for projects that directly tackle issues related to the violation of human rights.

The “right” to choose open source and non‑profit projects under the #SidnetDonations initiative went for the first time to Michał Zbytniewski, Senior Full‑Stack Developer, working from Lublin on a daily basis on projects for our long‑term clients: THGEdge NPD.

The Tor Project

An open‑source web browser for (almost) anonymous Internet browsing. It works with Linux, Windows and macOS, as well as on mobile devices. Since 2003 it has been distributed under the BSD license.

The authors of the tool are against Internet spying and censorship. The multi‑layered encryption and limited user identification capability has made Tor popular among activists, journalists and whistleblowers. It helped Edward Snowden to release information about the PRISM program.

“Tor lets users share opinions, publish content and communicate in places where these activities are impossible or difficult, such as in countries censoring the Internet. It also protects users’ privacy by blocking the tracking of their Internet activities, for marketing purposes for example,” Michał explains.

Amnesty International Poland

This branch of a global organization that combats human right violations has been operating in Poland for 30 years. The organization carries out research, publicizes instances of right violations, helps victims across the world, and lobbies for legal changes.

“My first thought was to choose a non‑governmental organization supporting development and universal education. The recent events – the Women’s Strike and the Belorussian elections along with the repercussions – have swayed me to change my attitude,” our developer said.

Amnesty International Poland is credited with starting such initiatives as:

  • Write for Rights – the largest worldwide human right campaign initiated by the Warsaw local group of Amnesty International. The action is about sending a massive number of letters appealing to the authorities or expressing solidarity regarding several specific individuals whose human rights have been violated.
  • My Body My Rights – a campaign against limiting sexual and reproductive rights.
  • The Border of Human Rights [PL] – a campaign against limiting the rights of individuals seeking asylum in Poland.

“When things spiral out of control, it is good to know there are people in this world who can help us selflessly,” Michał added.

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 in London. In 1977 the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for its contributions to strengthening of fundamental freedoms, justice and world peace.

#SidnetDonations: Wojtek for Pandoc and Marcin Sztrubel (Avalon Foundation beneficiary)

Inconspicuousness may be the common denominator of the initiatives we support in November. Today we’ll talk about the inspiring power to act despite disability and about a tool that did not need a marketing package to become popular at universities and among developers.

This month’s selection of open‑source and non‑profit projects has been made by Wojtek Siewierski AKA Vifon—an experienced Full‑Stack Developer and IT Administrator, a cybersecurity expert and enthusiast of open‑source technology.

Pandoc

Versatile, open‑source document converter. Created by John MacFarlane, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and released under the GNU General Public License.

It supports a number of formats, from standard .doc or .pdf to those used by developers, such as: Markdown, org-mode, LaTeX, Jupyter Notebook or HTML. The project author himself points out the tool’s multi-functionality, comparing it to  Swiss Army knife.

“At Sidnet, we use it in our SidPDF software—an internal tool to generate PDFs based on templates. The strength of Pandoc is that even if we need to convert from/to a format that is new to us, the tool probably supports it,”—says our developer.

In addition to many formats, Pandoc can perfectly handle document aspects such as:

  • metadata (title, author, date);
  • footers;
  • tables;
  • lists;
  • subscripts and superscripts;
  • quotations.

You can see the capabilities of Pandoc in the browser demo version.

Marcin Sztrubel (Avalon Foundation beneficiary)

Wojtek’s friend, Marcin Sztrubel, suffers from progressive muscular atrophy. Thanks to the Avalon Foundation, he collects funds for orthopedic equipment and specialist rehabilitation.

When his health and time allowed him, he used to be involved in issues close to people with disabilities. He was a member of the board of the Polish Neuromuscular Diseases Association, which has gathered over a thousand members. He is also the author of over 20(!) blogs in Polish dedicated to people with disabilities, including:

“Last year Marcin broke both legs during rehabilitation, which made his condition much worse as he had to cease all exercise. Because of Marcin’s health, the injury required several surgeries. Right now, he must use a special elevator,”—explains Wojtek.

Marcin is looked after by the Avalon Foundation, which also helps many other people with disabilities and chronic diseases. It acquires funds, activates those under its care during rehabilitation and improves their self‑reliance. It inspires the disabled to play sports through the Avalon Extreme project.

#SidnetDonations: Tadzik for LineageOS and Campaign Against Homophobia

In the Sidnet team, it is easier to find mild variations of ‘Googlephobia’ or ‘proprietaryphobia’ than discrimination based on any personal characteristics.

These attitudes are well reflected by open‑source and non‑profit projects, which we will support in October in accordance with the request of Tadeusz Sośnierz (Tadzik)a talented Backend Developer, programming trainer and co-creator of open source software, including Perl 6 (now known as Raku).

LineageOS

Open-source operating system for smartphones and tablets. It is based on Android, but unlike Android, it does not contain proprietary software.

“The goal of LineageOS (formerly CyanogenMod) is to develop Android as free software. Although the standard version of Android is technically open, most smartphones on the market come with a version modified by the manufacturer, network operator, and Google.Tadzik explains.

LineageOS offers a number of features not available in the official Android Open Source Project (AOSP) software.

Examples of unique features of LineageOS:

  • Advanced customization of buttons (including physical ones), lock screen or profiles (e.g. ‘Work’, ‘Home’). The latter can be customized to start automatically when connected to a specific Wi‑Fi network or Bluetooth device.
  • Increased security and privacy. From full control over application authorizations through the ability to hide sensitive numbers (e.g. emergency numbers for victims of violence) in the call log, to ‘PIN scramble’a feature related to mixing numbers on the lock screen, making it difficult to see the PIN used to unlock the phone.
  • Features for developers and demanding users. Advanced features regarding recovery or recording of phone calls.

The community around LineageOS is also committed to keeping Android updates for devices made years ago, extending their life cycle.

“LineageOS gives a second life to older smartphones for which updates (including security updates) are sometimes delayed by months or even completely unavailable. With LineageOS, I continue to receive updates for my five‑year‑old phone, reducing both expenses and the production of electronic waste.”our developer adds.

Campaign Against Homophobia (Kampania Przeciw Homofobii)

Nationwide public awareness organization campaigning against homophobia and transphobia. It was established in 2001 by Robert Biedroń. It educates, organizes social campaigns, provides free legal and psychological assistance to people experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. It organized the powerful project ‘Let them see us’ (‘Niech nas zobaczą’, 2003)the first campaign for same‑sex couples in Poland.

“Much has changed during these 17 years, but it is still common for some people to try to dictate to others what normality is. The authorities in Poland feel entitled to compare someone’s nature to ideology or a whim. I hope that thanks to the Campaign Against Homophobia and similar initiatives, I will finally stop worrying about the health and life of my friends and will not have to lower my eyes again when telling foreigners where I am from.”says Tadzik.

The organization also operates outside Poland, supporting the LGBT movement in Eastern Europe. It provides assistance to refugees from countries where non‑heterosexual or transgender people are threatened with the death penalty or imprisonment.

#SidnetDonations: Jakub for The Linux Foundation and the Warsaw Hospice for Children Foundation

I have the impression that some September holidays, like International Charity Day and the Programmer’s Day, are celebrated at Sidnet at least 12 times a year. After all, we are always supporting the open‑source and charity projects our team members choose halfway through each month.

This time it is Jakub Opara making the selectionour Finance Director, a PRINCE2‑certified project leader and an occasional developer coding in Python, Perl and JavaScript.

The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is a non‑profit organization whose members include tens of thousands of programmers and over a thousand companies, such as IBM, Microsoft and Intel. It was established in 2000 to develop and protect Linux. Today it maintains numerous open-source projects. It supports them financially, provides essential services and infrastructure, and shares its expertise at events and certified training sessions.

“The Linux Foundation is responsible for the largest open-source project in history. It also skilfully capitalizes on this experience to serve as an incubator for other revolutionary technologies,” said Jakub.

The open-source projects sponsored by The Linux Foundation include:

  • Kubernetesa platform for scaling, automating and managing container-based applications and microservices
  • JenkinsCI/CD tool for building, testing, deploying and automating software.
  • GraphQLa highly efficient query language for API servers. Created by Facebook developers, it was later made publicly available and became an alternative to REST.

Apart from driving the development of open‑source projects, The Linux Foundation promotes equal access to technology, as well as encourages people to acquire programming competencies and build careers in IT.

Warsaw Hospice for Children Foundation

The foundation enables children suffering from incurable diseases to spend the final period of their lives at home. They are periodically visited by a team of nurses, doctors, psychologists and physiotherapists. The hospice staff help the children to live through their last moments with dignity, free of pain. They also prepare the families for their child’s inevitable passing and support them in mourning.

Additionally, before they start working with the foundation, the parents may ask the foundation to help them contact a family who have already dealt with a similar disease and also taken advantage of palliative home care.

This is the 3rd time that we are supporting the Warsaw Hospice for Children, according to Jakub’s wishes:

“They are my first choice. They help and comfort families who suffer, who often do not understand why this has happened to them, and to allow them to come to terms with the inevitable. A lot of us are unaware of the personal dramas happening just a step away,” Jakub explained.

#SidnetDonations: Angelika for PDFsam Basic and Empowering Children Foundation

One of the things that every Sidnet team member learns quite promptly, is respect for open-source software. You may not know much about it when joining, but after some time (and especially after the first Sidnet donation made on your behalf), you begin to understand why the idea of open-source software is so commendable.

This was the case for both Staszek and myself, and now it is time for Angelika Wiskont, the board assistant who coordinates the work of the Rawa Mazowiecka office, to make the choice. Angelika handles the team’s billing and administrative matters and keeps our meeting calendar in check.

What open-source and non-profit projects will we be supporting based on Angelika’s choices?

PDFsam Basic

PDFsam Basic is an open-source PDF editor. It is a desktop application for Windows, iOS and Linux that is available free of charge.

PDFsam Basic includes the following modules:

  • PDF merge allows you to merge entire PDF files or their parts (including any outlines and Acroforms in them).
  • PDF split allows you to split a PDF file into smaller files based on the specified page range, header level or target PDF size.
  • PDF mix allows you to combine pages from PDF files in the appropriate way, even in cases where some scans have been arranged in the reverse order.
  • Rotate PDF allows you to either rotate all or selected pages by 90°, 180° or 270°.
  • Extract pages allows you to create a new PDF from the pages selected.

“I work with PDF documents every day, so I was looking for a tool that would be multifunctional, but also quick and easy to use. I now use PDFsam Basic, which gives me more options than other free software. I would like to contribute to its further development,” Angelika explained.

Empowering Children Foundation

Empowering Children Foundation (Fundacja Dajemy Dzieciom Siłę) is the largest Polish organization that fights to prevent violence against children in a comprehensive way. Formerly known as the Nobody’s Children Foundation (Fundacja Dzieci Niczyje), it is responsible for such well-known social campaigns as ‘You never know who’s on the other side’ and ‘Bad touch’.

“As a young mother, I cannot fathom how anyone can use violence against children or abuse them sexually. I want to say a firm ‘NO’ to both the direct perpetrators of violence—which often has dire consequences for children’s development—and anyone who turns a blind eye to such behavior”, said Angelika.

Empowering Children Foundation offers legal and psychological help to children and their guardians who have suffered abuse. It organizes wide-ranging social campaigns to educate children and adults alike. It also strives to change the Polish law to better protect the best interests of children.