Ergaster Blog

Open source strategy and digital citizenship.
A banner with a stylised eraser.

Writing is hard, so I got help

I’m not a native English speaker. I make grammar mistakes, and I write convoluted sentences. This can muddy my message. I can nag colleagues and friends to proofread my prose, but I want to be mindful of their time. I decided to find a tool to help me write better English instead.
A banner with an icon of a lab tube

Tracking what works, not people

The Matrix Foundation is in charge of various activities revolving around Matrix. One of the most important activities to make Matrix a mainstream protocol is lowering the barrier to entry for the general public. The Matrix.org website is a critical step of the onboarding: this is what people will stumble upon when they look up “what is Matrix chat” or “chatting on Matrix” in a search engine.
A banner with an icon of an enveloppe and a lock

Escaping surveillance capitalism, at scale

Our relationship with computers and phones has changed. We used to rely on software installed locally on our computers, and are now shifting towards a model based on services and companion apps, sometimes with free tiers and subscriptions.
A banner with an icon of two persons together

A CRM for the Matrix Foundation

The Matrix.org Foundation is a non-profit. It carries out costly programs which are only supported by donations. The Foundation’s biggest donor by far has been Element since the Foundation’s early days. Individual donors have supported the Foundation since the very beginning as well, before the Foundation opened up more recently to corporate sponsorship.
A banner with a logo of a fingerprint.

Should you check SSH fingerprints?

You just set up a new server, and you want to SSH into it to start configuring it. You open your terminal, use the ssh command to connect remotely into it and… you get greeted by a prompt telling you the authenticity of the host can’t be established.
A parody of the This Is Fine meme. A fire is sitting in a chair surrounded by puppies.

My server can burn, my services will run

When I was a kid, our house got burgled three times. Our most valuable belongings were taken, our safe place put upside down, and our minds were scarred. This had a deep impact on my relationship with belongings: I want as little of them as possible, and I want them to be easy to replace.
A banner with the Obsidian logo and two arrows cycling clockwise

Syncing Notes with Obsidian

In a previous post I mentioned my quest for an interoperable successor to OneNote, and how I ended up settling with Obsidian. I often braindump in bed, before picking up the ideas and fleshing them out on a computer the next day. This means I need to synchronise Obsidian between my computers and phone.
A banner with the an anxious emoji

I don't want to host services (but I do)

I don’t want to self-host, and even worse: I think most individuals shouldn’t host services for others. Yet, I am self-hosting services and I even teach people how to do it.
A banner with the Blinkist icon

A book in 15 minutes - Blinkist review

Blinkist is a paid service that gives you access to their summaries of popular books. Pick a book from their collection, and 15 to 30 minutes later you should know the key ideas behind the book.
A banner with the OneNote icon

OneNote but Interoperable

When I worked as a consultant, I loved OneNote on the Windows 7 machine I had to use. When moving to Windows 10 OneNote had become a version mess between the free and paid one… and then work allowed me to move to another operating system. Needless to say non-Windows versions of OneNote are not as feature rich nor usable as the one I was used to.
A banner with the exploding head emoji in the center

The Website Existential Crisis

After several months of work, I recently spearheaded the release of the new matrix.org website. The website refresh was long overdue. It started as a project to pay off tech debt, and I decided to take it as an opportunity to redesign it entirely.
A banner with the GNOME logo and the text IRC

GNOME moves away from GIMPnet

The GNOME community has become a Matrix-first community some time ago, and we kept the bridges to our historical IRC network gimpnet as a convenience for people who were more comfortable using it. The GNOME community is going to move away from GIMPnet… which doesn’t mean we’re going to severe ties with IRC entirely.
A banner with the GNOME logo and a hammer icon

Scaling the Foundation to Contribute to GNOME

This article follows one published by a former director, Allan Day, who detailed the evolution of the Board of Directors. The article you’re reading goes further on what I believe is needed to help us scale the Foundation to become an active contributor to the GNOME Project, beyond its traditional support activities.
A banner with the GNOME and Matrix logos next to each other

Adopting Matrix at the GNOME Foundation

This blog post was also posted as a wall of text on GNOME’s Discourse to share the results of the survey with the broader GNOME Community.
A banner with the GNOME logo and a cloud crossed out

Funding decentralised/local-first applications for GNOME

This blog post was originally a wall of text on GNOME’s Discourse to involve the GNOME Project community in the shaping of the GNOME Foundation’s programmes.
A banner with the Raspberry Pi logo

Encrypted Backups on a Raspberrypi with a Sleepy Disk

I self-host a few services. It’s easy to put services online, but self-hosting properly in the long run is difficult. A part of self-hosting properly is having backups and monitoring. In this article I’m going to show you how I make sure to get off-site backups, with a Raspberry Pi at home pulling data from my VPS. There’s room for improvement, and if you have constructive comments on how I can do better I’d be happy to hear them!
A banner with the Matrix favicon in the center

Owning Your Matrix Account

When we deployed our Matrix instance for GNOME, we were really used to IRC. We did not think through all the ways people would use an account for, and left registrations too open. As a consequence, many people created an account on our instance because they like the GNOME Project, and started using it as a personal account.
A banner with the GNOME and Matrix logos next to each other

Problems we faced on GNOME’s Matrix instance

This post follows an introduction to Matrix with e-mails, where I explain that Matrix is a federated system.
A cover the GNOME logo and the icon of a stack of coins

On the Sustainability of the GNOME Foundation

This blog post was originally a question and answer on GNOME’s Discourse to discuss how candidates to the board would be able to help making the GNOME Foundation sustainable.
A banner with the Matrix favicon in the center

Matrix for Instant Messaging

The Matrix protocol is full of concepts sometimes hard to grasp. In this post I’m going to try to cover how it’s used in the context of messaging, how close to e-mail it can feel, and how decentralisation is achieved in the open safely. For the sake of simplicity and ease of understanding I might lie to you sometimes: this post is aimed at non-experts.
A banner with the GNOME logo and the icon of a podium

Running for the GNOME Foundation's Board of Directors

Like many, I started my involvement in the GNOME community as an end-user. Eventually, I wanted to give back to this project I loved. I wanted to see both the project and the community strive. We already had and still have many excellent developers who work hard to implement the vision of our talented design team. Those are not areas where my contribution would make a difference. I started helping with translations. For this activity I have regularily been chasing maintainers for string freezes, or to ask for explanations when strings didn’t make sense for me.
A banner with the GNOME and the Libera Chat logos next to each other

On the “Libera Chat” Spam

This blog post was originally a wall of text on GNOME’s Discourse to discuss of the impact of IRC on GNOME’s community safety.
A banner with the GNOME logo and the text IRC

IRC, Matrix, and thanks for all the kicks

This blog post was originally a wall of text on GNOME’s Discourse to discuss how we want our instant messaging to look like.