Imagine sitting in your cubicle, googling “how do I ____?” and finding the perfect open source solution, and NOT being able to just download it. Then imagine developing something really cool that you think is the perfect library for open source and not knowing if or how you can share it.
Being a public employee who develops software can be a real challenge. Typical tools that private sector developers take for granted are not allowed—or if they are, they must go through a long and rigorous vetting process that requires babysitting in order to not be forgotten in a pile of paperwork and red tape. Simple things like wanting to watch a cool YouTube tutorial can turn into a week’s worth of paperwork. Firefox and Chrome are browsers only recently available to us and only through Citrix making them not reliably available. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter—all are blocked sites. In today’s climate of developer meritocracy, not being able to contribute to open source projects can potentially limit your career options should you actually consider leaving government service (perish the thought!). Kathy Lee and Morgan Senkal discuss these challenges and suggest possible opportunities for public-sector contributions.
Kathy Lee is an IT specialist at Bonneville Power Administration, a federal nonprofit that is part of the Department of Energy. Kathy develops software that supports Power Business Line functions. This includes doing cool stuff like seeing how physical scientists operate the hydroelectric dams. In her spare time, Kathy enjoys spending time with her husband, geriatric canine, and friends. She is also a musician and can be seen once a year on New Year’s Eve on stage with people a lot cooler than she is.
Morgan Senkal moved to Portland, OR, from the far East (New England) back in the very early ’90s (before it was cool) after a failed attempt at becoming a rocket scientist (too much paperwork at NASA). After a few years in the carpentry trade building movie sets and fancy houses and a few more years working as a drafter helping to build silicon manufacturing plants and silicon crystal growing chambers, she finally discovered her true calling was software development. An agile evangelist, Morgan loves building software to solve business issues and automate processes. In short, she loves building stuff. Morgan is also a musician, writer, and martial artist (although rarely at the same time). She occasionally plays bass with friends and tenor drum for a local marching band and does the random DJ gig. She digs movies, the Portland tech community, historical fiction, most outdoor activities (except skydiving), and traveling to strange foreign lands (like Canada). Morgan has one dog, one cat, and two amazing nephews.
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