Dear Colleagues,

We hope you are all keeping well during these challenging times.

During the last year, NPFI has been engaged in a number of new open source and educational initiatives.   This note highlights these activities, and provides a look forward for the remainder of 2021.

  1. Earlier this year, NPFI provided modest tech support upgrading the FarmData software that is in use at the Dickinson College Farm.  FarmData was originally developed at Dickinson College by Professor Tim Wahls and his students.  For more information about this project, see this page.
  2. With a generous grant from the Long and Kimmy Nguyen Family Foundation, we are beginning a partnership that helps broaden participation among colleges in the Middle Atlantic region in developing free and open source software for non-profits.  For more details, please visit the NPFI News page.
  3. In fall 2020, we began participating in the 5-year OpenPace project, titled “Broadening Participation through Authentic, Collaborative Engagement with Computing for the Greater Good”, funded by an NSF grant to 6 educational institutions in the NorthEast.  For more details, please visit the NPFI News page.
  4. Throughout 2020, NPFI continued working with Dickinson College to develop new open source farm management software that would extend the functionality of the current FarmData software.  This new project is called FarmData2, and is further discussed here.

We also seek your advice on the following new question:  As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, NPFI does not charge for any technical support — bug fixing and adding new features — that we have provided for other non-profit users who use certain student-developed open source software products (Homebase, Homeroom, Homeplate, and FarmData).  While that may be appropriate for a non-profit user, it may not make sense in the following situation:

Suppose one of these software products is being used by a for-profit organization, such as a farm using FarmData for its daily record-keeping.  Since FarmData is free open source software, the only ongoing cost to the user is a nominal monthly hosting fee.  NPFI provides pro bono technical support for FarmData. 

But now suppose the user is a for-profit organization that finds a bug in FarmData or has a need for a new feature. Should NPFI provide technical support?  Should that support be provided pro bono, on a fee-for-service basis, or on some other basis?  Or should NPFI just refer the user to a free-lance software service, such as upwork.com, to find that support?

To provide feedback, just reply to this email or else log in at the Members Only Log in in the bottom right-hand corner of https://npfi.org and leave a note on the Advisory Board Suggestions page.  (To log in, enter your email address as the Username.  Your password is initially set to “instructor”, “client”, or “developer” accordingly, as indicated by your appearance on the Who We Are page.) After logging in, look for the Advisory Board Suggestions tab at the bottom right corner of the page.  

Finally, FYI, NPFI now has a paid Zoom account that can be used to facilitate future Advisory Board meetings, as well as calls with instructors, clients, and/or developers as we need them.

Many thanks and best personal wishes for a productive year!  

Allen and Jenny

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